Volkswagen Motorsport, once the dominant force in the World Rally Championship with the unrivaled winning rate of its Polo R WRC, is closing its doors.
The Hanover-based team, which monopolized the WRC’s drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships in a spectacular four-year campaign from 2013 to 2016, will cease production of its customer-focused Polo R5 at the end of this year.
Volkswagen has insisted spare parts for the cars will still be available beyond 2020.
Beyond its WRC effort, Volkswagen also scored three successive Dakar wins with the Race Touareg between 2009 and 2011. Post-WRC, it dominated World Rallycross with Johan Kristoffersson, winning three titles in four years and, of course, smashed the Pikes Peak Hillclimb record with its all-electric ID.R.
It also backed Andretti Autosport’s successful US rallycross program that won five consecutive drivers’ titles between 2015-19.
The decision comes as part of a reorganization of the Volkswagen brand, with Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH integrated into Volkswagen AG.
In a statement, Volkswagen has confirmed all 169 employees in motorsport will be offered a new contract with Volkswagen AG in Wolfsburg.
Dr. Frank Welsch, member of the board responsibile for VW’s Development Division, explained the situation, saying: “The Volkswagen brand is on the way to becoming the leading provider for sustainable e-mobility.
“To this end, we are pooling our strengths and have decided to terminate the VW brand’s own motorsport activities.
“The motorsport workforce will be integrated in VW AG. The deep technical expertise of the motorsport employees and the know-how gained from the ID.R project will remain with the company and will help us put further efficient models from the ID. family on the road.”
Welsch’s colleague Wilfried von Rath, member of the board responsible for the brand’s human resources, thanked the likes of VW Motorsport director Sven Smeets and his team for their efforts.
Von Rath said: “For decades, the Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH team brought the brand a string of major sporting successes. My warmest thanks go to all employees for so many victories, titles and records throughout the world and for their personal dedication and commitment.”