WRC teams did not reach an agreement with FIA for a potential private entrance with a 2017-specification Volkswagen Polo R WRC.
Volkswagen decided to pull out of the World Rally Championship at the end of the 2016 season. The car was ready but the team did not homologate it. Nasser Al-Attiyah tried to gather money but did not have enough time. The potential for a private entry still exists but the homologation needs all other teams’ approval.
Representatives of Hyundai, Citroen, Toyota and M-Sport met with FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen to discuss the matter. According to Mahonen the meeting was positive and held in a good atmosphere.
“People raised their concerns and they have the right to do that. I will discuss this with Volkswagen and then we’re going to meet again”, he added, quoted by Autosport.
Citroen Racing’s team principal Yves Matton said the teams needed more information before agreeing for the project.
“It’s always a good idea to have more cars in the championship, but maybe this is a short-term perspective. We need to be sure this brings something to the championship and not the opposite. Now it’s only one line: ‘to homologate the car to do some rallies’”, Matton explained.
He told Autosport the teams need to know “who drives, what rallies, what will be their constraints compared with our constraints. Maybe we need to review the rules to enter the championship, but we need to do this in a proper way and not in one 30-minute meeting.”
Jarmo Mahonen: “People raised their concerns and they have the right to do that”
Mahonen gave as an example exactly Citroen and their 2016 program in the championship: “They had committed to come back, but Volkswagen hasn’t done this. The manufacturers have restrictions on them in area like the gearbox through the regulations linking key parts and we have to look to make sure everybody is treated fairly – we can’t have them coming all of the time with the new car.”
According to Tommi Makinen more teams would make the championship stronger. He said the situation is a question of “bringing more value and more interest”.
Hyundai’s team principal Michel Nandan said that the private entry’s not possible with the current regulations.
“For me it’s a bit strange that this big decision (for leaving the championship) came and then suddenly they need to homologate the car. If we start to give the waiver to everybody then it can be difficult. I think everybody should respect the rules. If you want to homologate the car, you have to enter the championship. I can understand their problem, but a lot of companies have problems to make them stop motorsport. I have the same experience from before”, Nandan said.