Volkswagen eyeing Red Bull GRC expansion


Credit: Dominik Wilde

Volkswagen could be about to increase their involvement in Red Bull Global Rallycross, despite announcing that they would be withdrawing from the FIA World Rally Championship when the current season concludes later this month.

The German manufacturer, a part of the Volkswagen Audi Group which last week also scrapped the vastly-successful Audi Le Mans Prototype programme, is ‘realigning’ their motorsport strategy as the company looks to recover from the diesel emissions scandal.

The scandal, dubbed ‘Dieselgate’ in the press, has cost them billions of dollars in reparations and fines. This has seen them make a number of cuts over the last year, with motorsport being one of the biggest casualties.

Volkswagen have called time on their World Rally Championship foray - Credit: Dominik Wilde
Volkswagen have called time on their World Rally Championship foray – Credit: Dominik Wilde

However, the company has vowed to continue in motorsport, despite cutting two of their most successful programmes.

Audi will increase their involvement in FIA Formula E, moving from a partner to a full-fledged factory team next year, while Volkswagen will switch their focus to customer rallying and racing programmes with a new Polo R5 rally car that will be introduced in 2018, and the Golf GTI TCR that made its début earlier this year.

Volkswagen has also vowed to increase their support for their Red Bull Global Rallycross operation.

Run in conjunction with Andretti Autosport, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross has won a manufacturers’ and two drivers’ titles, plus 18 championship rounds since they entered the series in 2014.

Andretti Autosport declined to comment when asked by The Checkered Flag if the team was under threat following the revelation that the WRC team was set for the chop. However, Volkswagen themselves have moved to quash any doubts, insisting that the team definitely has a future.

“Volkswagen is going to focus more on customer racing. As well as the Golf GTI TCR on the circuit track and the Beetle GRC in rallycross,” Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Technical Development, told Volkswagen Motorsport‘s 200 employees in Hannover.

The company also spoke of a desire to expand their Red Bull Global Rallycross operations in the future.

“In the USA, Volkswagen of America has successfully entered two Beetle vehicles, developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in Hannover, into the Global Rallycross series and has already prepared them for the 2017 season,” a Volkswagen Motorsport press release read. “Scott Speed won the drivers’ title in the popular US series in both 2015 and 2016, and this season the manufacturer’s title also went to Volkswagen. The brand will investigate the expansion of these activities on the strength of their existing experience in rallycross.”

Volkswagen had previously toyed with the idea of running a customer programme in Red Bull Global Rallycross using a car based on the Golf GTI. That, however, failed to come to fruition.

Instead, the manufacturer has focussed on running two Beetle GRCs for both Tanner Foust and Scott Speed, having entered the series with a pair of ex-Marklund Motorsport Polos in 2014.

The VARX team have taken three Beetles to Red Bull GRC events for the last two seasons, despite only running two, meaning that the team has the ability to expand to a three-car entry should Volkswagen choose to.

VARX have had a third car at every events for a while - Credit: Dominik Wilde
VARX have had a spare car at Red Bull GRC events for a while – Credit: Dominik Wilde