CAPITO ON VW’S FUTURE WITHOUT HIM
Volkswagen’s Jost Capito says he will leave the German team in the best possible position to continue its dominance of the World Rally Championship.
Capito signs off on his success at the top of the World Rally Championship this afternoon (Wednesday) before starting as chief executive officer at the Woking Formula 1 team on Thursday morning.
Under his command the Polo R WRC has won 39 times in 48 world championship starts since arriving in 2013 and both Sebastien Ogier and Volkswagen are well on their way to fourth consecutive titles this season.
Today all is good. Tomorrow, the World Rally Championship is a poorer place.
Jost’s gone. Gone to Woking. Gone to Formula 1. As you can see elsewhere on this page, Capito leaves his mark on the WRC – and it’ll be fascinating to see what kind of an impression he can make on Mclaren in the coming months.
I will miss Jost. Not only has he been the most successful team principal in the history of the World Rally Championship, he’s been a man with an opinion about the service park and that’s an increasingly rare thing these days.
I know not all of you agreed with him (I know I didn’t all of the time), but few, if any, spent as much time thinking about the best way forward for our sport.
Remember the whole Sunday revolution? The idea of dividing times by 10 to give a real, tenth-ofa-second thriller of a powerstage? All Jost’s idea. Fine, so lots of you didn’t like it. But tell me: how many team principals in global motorsport have such passion and vision for their field that they spend time formulating and pitching an idea to the series promoter?
Few will know the work Capito has completed behind the scenes in an effort to drive our sport forward. His fervor for the sport to find the right path is matched only by his determination for that path to be forged on a level playing field. Last week he took to these pages to explain himself on the whole Kris Meeke story. Again, how many men in such a lofty position would have cared sufficiently to do that?
Fundamentally, Capito is one of us. Always has been. His love for the sport hasn’t changed from the moment he fired up a motorbike to compete for the first time as a child to the time he switched off his Ducati for the final time in Germany earlier this month, having just returned from riding out to watch his cars among the fans for the final time.
It was that desire to deliver what punters want to watch – allied to an absolute determination not to have Volkswagen’s competitiveness compromised – that maintained a three-car presence in the World Rally Championship, post-dieselgate.
Volkswagen, like its Group counterparts Audi and Porsche, was told it had to cut its budget by one third. Audi and Porsche went route one, losing a car each for this year’s Le Mans. Capito was having none of it. Instead, he cut one of the team’s enormous hospitality units and pitched the team – drivers and co-drivers included – into the same space as the media and corporate guests.
“Fans have one third less from Audi and Porsche,” said Capito. “I did not want that for our fans.”
Quite how such zeal will play out in a world driven so firmly by commercial reality remains to be seen.
Would it be hopelessly naïve to ask Jost to stay true to himself? Probably. But I’ll do it anyway.
Good luck, my friend.
British Rally Championship driver Rhys Yates will cap off his second full season of rallying with a first run in the World Championship on Wales Rally GB in his Ford Fiesta R5.
The Chesterfield driver won the MSA English Rally Championship and the BTRDA Class B10 title in his first full season of rallying in a Ford Fiesta R2 in 2015.
Now the former motocross rider, who sits ninth in the BRC standings, will take his family-run operation to Deeside.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, starting in the BTRDA not even knowing what pacenotes are to doing Rally GB in an R5,” said Yates. “It’s happened quickly.
“We nearly had the opportunity to do it last year in the MSL R5, but we
Richard Hyslop was one of the unsung background heroes on which our sport depends. He died earlier this month. He was 42 years old.
For 20 years he was better known as ‘Piper 5 Recovery’, his Land Rover Defender rescue unit a staple fixture at the majority of Scottish rallies and race meetings.
In March this year he underwent a major transplant operation, and was back on duty within weeks. Indeed his last event was the annual BTCC round at Knockhill after which he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly due to a blood clot, unrelated to his kidney transplant. More recently he was involved in the ongoing training process for new safety and recovery crews to ensure that more volunteers were introduced to the sport and brought up to standard.
The sport will miss his good humour, determination and enthusiasm, but none more so than his wife Hazel, daughter Natalie and son Jake, their wider family and huge circle of friends. Our thoughts are with them.