Rumors surrounding a prospective motorsports expansion in the Volkswagen Group have been swirling around for years now. One of the largest automakers in the world, VW's factory-supported racing activities are largely limited to Audi and its considerable Le Mans program and Volkswagen's own Dakar efforts, with a handful of lower-level initiatives and non-works entries in other series. We're still expecting a big shake-up, but the first step, according to reports, will see the Volkswagen brand launch a challenge for the World Rally Championship.
The initiative was set to launch last month at the WRC Portugal Rally, but Germans being Germans, the launch was reportedly delayed because the papers had yet to be signed by the right people. With all the Johan Hanckonenshteins now apparently in place, the program is set to be announced next month at Italy's Sardegna rally.
Volkswagen's WRC entry is expected to revolve around the Polo (pictured above in South Africa in S2000 rally spec), which will challenge select rounds in 2012 before going flat-out for the full season in 2013 – similar to the path which Mini and Prodrive have taken with their new entry. Norwegian driver Petter Solberg – who won the championship for Subaru in 2003 – is rumored as a potential driver, as is Nasser Al-Attiyah, the Qatari driver (and competitive marksman) who won at Dakar in a Volkswagen Touareg this year as well as the WRC production class which he won in 2006 in a Subaru Impreza.