Volkswagen to exit World Rally Championship by year end

Wolfsburg, GermanyUpdated: Nov 02, 2016, 02:26 PM IST
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The Volkswagen board decided on the rally withdrawal at a meeting on Tuesday at the Wolfsburg headquarters. Photograph:(AFP)

German auto giant Volkswagen said today that it will leave the World Rally Championship by the end of the 2016 season, news agency AFP reported.

The decision was made at a meeting on Tuesday at the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters, according to Autosport.

"The commitment to the FIA world rally championship is coming to an end after four historically successful years, in which Volkswagen won WRC titles in the driver, co-driver and manufacturer rankings in a row with the Polo R," the company said in a statement.

Last week, the company announced that luxury brand Audi was pulling out of Le Mans and the endurance world championship to concentrate on Formula E.

The shock withdrawal means that Sebastien Ogier, along with other team drivers Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala and Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen are on the driver market.

But Ogier at least seemed confident.

"I feel so sorry for my fantastic team. We had four outstanding years! Thanks for their passion and support! Don't worry about me, we'll see us again," Ogier said on Twitter.

Sebastien Ogier and VW have dominated the drivers' and manufacturers' championships and taken 42 individual rally wins along the way. 

"The team has done great things," said VW Motorsport director Sven Smeets.

"At the same time, our vision is firmly ahead, because we are aware of the great challenges facing the entire company," added Smeets.

"From now on, the focus is on upcoming technologies in motorsport and on our customer sports range."

(WION with inputs from AFP)