MIKKELSEN: THIS IS FOR VW
Rally Australia winner Andreas Mikkelsen dedicated his victory in Coffs Harbour to the Volkswagen Motorsport team, which ended its five-year spell in the World Rally Championship on Sunday.
Amid emotional scenes, the Norwegian admitted his victory – which came after a straight fight with world champion Sebastien Ogier – was the highlight of his career and his time with the Hannover-based squad.
“I’m so happy and so proud of the team,” said Mikkelsen. “This last victory is for them. They gave me the chance to come into the WRC right from the very beginning of their time in the championship – and there were many drivers to chose from back then. I hope I have given back some of what they have given me.”
While the three works crews will all depart, certain members of the Hannover team are expected to return to the WRC next season with private drivers using the 2016-specification Polo R WRC.
Team principal Sven Smeets confirmed to Motorsport News that this year’s world championship-winning car will be available for next season, a move which is seen as the first step in Volkswagen’s shift from a pure factory rally team to a commercial operation. Work on the firm’s Polo R5 car will begin imminently.
Smeets said: “We are open to every set-up for drivers renting the cars next year. There will always have to be a level of technical engineering support from us – this Polo is not like an R5 car – but we are open to anybody who is interested.”
He added that he was impressed with the level of interest in running a 2016 car. “I’m also not so surprised: for the last four years we have had people asking us if they can rent the car and we have always been saying no, but now we can say yes,” said Smeets. “It’s possible we could be in Monte Carlo, but we would have to make an agreement soon.”
It is understood Volkswagen has up to 12 cars to rent out for next season.
Mikkelsen won in Australia The team celebrates first and second spot