GROUP RAL­LY­ING ED­I­TOR “When did the Monte last have heavy snow?”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Sus­pen­sion in­sight, p21 Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­

Volk­swa­gen’s 2017-spec­i­fi­ca­tion Polo R WRC could still ap­pear in this sea­son’s World Rally Cham­pi­onship, de­spite miss­ing its fi­nal ho­molo­ga­tion date at the start of the year.

The all-new Polo was sched­uled to be ho­molo­gated from Jan­uary 1, but when no deal to fi­nance the run­ning of the car could be agreed with a pri­vate in­vestor, the date passed and the VW re­mained un­ho­molo­gated.

Volk­swa­gen Motorsport direc­tor Sven Smeets has re­vealed to Motorsport News that ne­go­ti­a­tions are on­go­ing with both in­vestors and the FIA in an ef­fort to run the car later in the year. Volk­swa­gen can­not be in­cluded in the race for the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ti­tle, but Smeets said a re­al­is­tic time­frame for get­ting the car in ac­tion could be April’s Tour of Cor­sica.

“What we are talk­ing to the FIA about is an ex­cep­tional waiver for ho­molo­ga­tion,” Smeets told MN. “This sort of thing hasn’t been done be­fore, so it’s clear we would need some­thing ex­cep­tional to make it pos­si­ble to use the car.”

Af­ter much talk about a Nasser Al At­tiyah-fronted, Qatar­backed bid to take the cars over for 2017, Smeets cleared that spec­u­la­tion up, say­ing: “I can tell you and con­firm to you now that we are not in ne­go­ti­a­tion with Qatar. We are talk­ing to other peo­ple [about the fi­nanc­ing of the deal] and there is in­ter­est in this hap­pen­ing, but right now we need to ad­dress the first point [with the FIA].”

If a pri­vately funded Volk­swa­gen team does re­turn in 2017, it would be on the same sort of lines as Citroen’s PH Sportrun ef­fort last year: the team would sit in the ser­vice park, but not score points in the makes’ ti­tle race.

Both the FIA and WRC Pro­moter are very keen to see Volk­swa­gen’s Polo R WRC in ac­tion this sea­son. Even if ac­cord can be found, any agree­ment would re­quire unan­i­mous back­ing from the par­tic­i­pat­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers.

While there might be time to force any deal through be­fore Rally Mex­ico in March – and pos­si­bly even next month’s Rally Swe­den – Smeets is adamant Volk­swa­gen won’t rush the process of get­ting the car out.

“We are work­ing in a dif­fer­ent time­frame now [Jan­uary 1 has passed],” he said. “If that means we have to sit out an­other rally to make sure peo­ple are happy with the process then we’ll do that. The most im­por­tant thing for me is that we get the car through this ex­tra­or­di­nary process.”

Work be­gan on Volk­swa­gen’s 2017-spec­i­fi­ca­tion World Rally Car in Au­gust 2015 and only ceased af­ter Mar­cus Gron­holm’s fi­nal two-day snow test in north­ern Swe­den last month. The car is un­der­stood to be ready to start a rally im­me­di­ately and the in­fra­struc­ture which car­ried Volk­swa­gen to four con­sec­u­tive world cham­pi­onship ti­tles still re­mains in place.

run­ning along­side the BRC on its seven-round cal­en­dar. Driv­ers will be able to use any tyres from a man­u­fac­turer reg­is­tered with the BRC.

MH Motorsport team boss Mick Har­ris has backed the change.

“It gives more choice for com­peti­tors, which is a good thing,” said Har­ris. “Lis­ten­ing to what peo­ple are say­ing, I think peo­ple wanted to be able to use Miche­lin and Pirellis.”

New Polo has been thor­oughly tested

Har­ris ran JBRC driv­ers like Na­bila Te­j­par in 2016 cham­pi­onship

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