Volkswagen formally announced its entry into the World Rally Championship at a media event held in Sardinia today.

In doing so, the German marque ended months of speculation that they would join the championship. Volkswagen's announcement was made prior to the WRC debut of BMW-owned Mini at Rally d'Italia this weekend.

Volkswagen will join the championship in 2013, competing with the Polo R WRC. A concept version of the car was unveiled at the announcement. The commitment to rallying follows the brand's success at the Dakar Rally, which it has won on the past three occasions.

The announcement was made by Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Management Board of the Volkswagen Brand, Development Division. He was joined by Luca de Meo, Head of Marketing of Volkswagen AG, and Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen.

“The new technical regulations of the World Rally Championship are an ideal fit for Volkswagen's philosophy with respect to the development of production vehicles,” said Hackenberg. “Downsizing, high efficiency and reliability are top priorities for our customers.

“The timing of the WRC debut is optimal for Volkswagen. The big task of engineering a vehicle that is competitive and capable of winning at a large number of challenges holds great appeal for us.”

“We can draw on an experienced and proven squad which has done an outstanding job in top-calibre sport in the past few years,” said Nissen. “Even though the WRC is new territory for us and involves learning in many areas the team already meets some important prerequisites now as it brings an unwavering professional attitude and resolve to deliver absolute perfection to this commitment.”

No announcements have yet been made regarding drivers, though 2003 world champion Petter Solberg and Nasser Al-Attiyah, who won the 2011 Dakar with Volkswagen, have both been linked to the project. Former world champion Carlos Sainz, a driver for Volkswagen's Dakar programme, is set to have a role in management of the WRC project. Both Al-Attiyah and Sainz were present at the announcement.