VW WRC boss switches to Mclaren, but

Motor Sport News - - Front Page - By David Evans

Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport di­rec­tor Jost Capito has ve­he­mently de­nied his move to Mclaren has any­thing to do with the Ger­man firm’s cur­rent road car cri­sis.

Capito, 57, will join the Wok­ing team as chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer as soon as a suit­able re­place­ment can be found at Volk­swa­gen. The Ger­man told Mo­tor­sport News his de­ci­sion to leave the squad he has built into a dom­i­nant force in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship was the hard­est of his ca­reer.

“It’s a big chal­lenge, but that’s me, I am al­ways in­ter­ested in a chal­lenge,” he said.

“I heard that peo­ple are talk­ing about dif­fer­ent rea­sons for me tak­ing this new job, but I can tell you here and now for sure: there is noth­ing wrong with Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport. My de­ci­sion to move is be­cause of the chal­lenge, this is not a sit­u­a­tion which has come around in the last three months since the diesel [emis­sions] is­sue. I first talked [to Mclaren] about the pos­si­bil­ity for this in the early sum­mer.

“Volk­swa­gen’s pro­gramme in the WRC is safe and we need suc­cess on this side more than ever right now. Of course, we try to save some bud­get, but the com­mit­ment is the same.”

The end of last sea­son was rife with spec­u­la­tion re­gard­ing Volk­swa­gen’s fu­ture in ral­ly­ing. Fel­low Volk­swa­gen Group brands Audi and Porsche have lost a car each from this year’s Le Mans en­try list in an ef­fort to save money in the wake of the emis­sions scan­dal. Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport is un­der­stood to have lost 30 per cent of its bud­get for this year, but that will be ab­sorbed in a down­scal­ing of the team’s on-event hos­pi­tal­ity on Euro­pean rounds. Three Polo R WRCS – for Se­bastien Ogier, Jari-matti Lat­vala and An­dreas Mikkelsen – will start ev­ery one of the 14 WRC rounds this year.

There are also con­cerns due to the tim­ing of Capito’s exit from Ford in 2012. He left the role of di­rec­tor of mo­tor­sport shortly be­fore Ford an­nounced its de­par­ture from the World Rally Cham­pi­onship.

De­spite last week’s an­nounce­ment, Capito said he doesn’t ex­pect to be va­cat­ing his Volk­swa­gen of­fice any time soon: “We wanted to make the an­nounce­ment, to get the news out there, so that we could stop the ru­mours. Now the process has to start to try to find some­body to re­place me. I don’t know how long that will take, but un­til that is done and I am happy with the way that’s done, I won’t be go­ing any­where. I will be here for the next three or four ral­lies, it could be longer – I don’t know.

“For now it’s busi­ness as usual with Volk­swa­gen. You know, it’s

kind of like with the chil­dren. You bring up your chil­dren and, at some stage, they have to leave the home and go on their own. As a par­ent, you want to make sure the chil­dren are well pre­pared for what is com­ing and that’s what I want to do with Volk­swa­gen.”

Mclaren suf­fered a dis­as­trous 2015 cam­paign in its first year with re­turn­ing en­gine sup­plier Honda, only beat­ing Marus­sia in the Con­struc­tors’ ta­ble. Asked if he thought it was a risk swap­ping the su­per-suc­cess­ful WRC out­fit for the trou­bled For­mula 1 team, Capito said: “It’s a risk, but I’m used to that. It was a risk when I left Ford to go to Volk­swa­gen in 2012. Look­ing back to that time, it was all good with Ford. We had the ST, the race cars and I had a great job – but Volk­swa­gen was a chal­lenge.

“It was a com­pletely new job when I went to Volk­swa­gen, I had to put the place in the sat-nav, I had no idea where I was go­ing and I didn’t know any of the peo­ple who worked there. And it will be the same when I go to Mclaren.

“It was a very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to take. This was the most dif­fi­cult [de­ci­sion] in my ca­reer and it will be the big­gest chal­lenge in my ca­reer. But it’s Mclaren.”

Capito, who re­places Jonathan Neale at Mclaren, is known in the F1 pad­dock. He worked as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Sauber in the 1990s and was in charge of Ford’s global mo­tor­sport pro­gramme when the Blue Oval sup­plied Jor­dan with en­gines.

“Any­body who works in our in­dus­try knows that F1 is about Mclaren and it’s about Fer­rari, and the chance to run the Mclaren team is not one that you can say no to,” he added. “For peo­ple who live in our world, it would be im­pos­si­ble to say no to this. Mclaren de­serves to be in a bet­ter po­si­tion than it is right now.”

Capito has moved through all aspects of mo­tor­sport and with dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers, in­clud­ing spells at Porsche and BMW.

“You know, I am a lit­tle bit like a gypsy,” he said. “I have been around many dif­fer­ent for­mula in mo­tor­sport. But one thing is sure, it is never easy to win. This doesn’t change what­ever you are do­ing – the chal­lenge is to keep the team mo­ti­vated and ready to win.

“This week, we start in Monte Carlo look­ing for a fourth ti­tle with Volk­swa­gen and that will be just as tough – if not tougher – than the ones we have won be­fore. When you are the hunted, it is never easy. We start from scratch again this week.”

M-sport’s Mal­colm Wil­son paid trib­ute to Capito and the six world ti­tles he has won in the last three years.

“He’ll be missed,” said Wil­son, who worked with Capito – and won two world ti­tles with him – when Ford was in­volved in the WRC. “It was great to work with him and to fight against him. What I’m also pleased with is that, once again, the World Rally Cham­pi­onship gets recog­ni­tion as For­mula 1 turns to us for its so­lu­tions.”

Capito fol­lows David Richards and Jean Todt from team man­age­ment in the WRC to the F1 pad­dock.

Capito has dom­i­nated the WRC with Volk­swa­gen and Ogier (left) for the last three years

Po­los are set to stay in WRC

Capito was Porsche’s head of mo­tor­sport or­gan­i­sa­tion from 1989 un­til 1996 Be­tween Oc­to­ber 1998 and Septem­ber 2001, he was COO at Sauber As Ford mo­tor­sport di­rec­tor, Capito lifted the 2006 WRC man­u­fac­tur­ers’ crown...­fore dou­bling up with more Fo­cus s

Capito joins Mclaren F1 squad af­ter its trou­bled first sea­son back with Honda

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