Nasser Al-Attiyah delayed his project for the 2017 World Rally Championship (WRC) until 2018. The Qatari driver, who is taking part in the Dakar rally at the moment, planned to use the new Volkswagen Polo WRC after the Wolfsburg’s team sudden withdrawal from the championship. Unfortunately he did not have enough time and postponed the plans.
The new Polo was completely ready at the end of 2016. Volkswagen’s decision to end its WRC participation left all of its crews without a team. Suddenly the car was useless after months of hard work and thousands of kilometers of tests. Sebastien Ogier signed with M-Sport, Jari-Matti Latvala went to Toyota. Andreas Mikkelsen got a ride with Skoda for the Monte Carlo Rally and is looking for other options for the rest of the season. It was only the new Polo that still had nowhere to race.
Al-Attiyah revealed in December 2016 that he was trying to put together a private team, supported by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund.
“The talks came when there were some celebrations in Qatar, and that didn’t help us that much”
“The time was very limited. We’ll work on this project in early 2017 in order to make it a reality for 2018. The idea was well welcomed in Qatar. But unfortunately we were not able to keep Ogier waiting for a long time”, Al-Attiyah explained for motorsport.com.
The 2017 WRC starts at end of January with the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. The participants include three factory teams – Citroen, Toyota and Hyundai – as well as M-Sport (Malcolm Wilson’s team works in cooperation with Ford). The cars are completely new, designed by the new technical rules of the championship. They will be more aggressive and will have more power. The promoters hope this will make the battle more interesting after Volkswagen and Ogier dominated the championship for the last four years.