VW won't let emissions scandal keep it from racing
This according to Matthias Müller, who recently moved up from his previous position as Porsche CEO to preside over the entire group. Speaking with Autosport at the World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain this past weekend, Müller emphasized the importance of racing to the company. "The motorsports programs are not in danger of being dropped or significantly reduced because motorsports is very important for the group and the brands," said Müller. "Basically we do not question our motorsport efforts."
Of all the brands under the group's umbrella, several have prominent, top-level factory works racing programs, and others support customer racing teams. The Volkswagen brand has emerged as the dominant force in the World Rally Championship, securing both titles over the past three years. Both Porsche and Audi compete in the top tier at Le Mans and in the World Endurance Championship, trading places in the winner's circle. Audi also competes in DTM, and alongside Lamborghini, Bentley, and Porsche, and also offers GT3 and GTE racing cars to private customers. Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi, and Seat (once the leader in touring cars) all run their own spec racing series as well. Škoda continues to compete in lower-level rallying, leaving only Bugatti to draw on its prominent pre-war grand prix racing history.
To hear Müller tell it, those racing programs – or at least the top-levels ones among them – aren't going away anytime soon. But there may still be some tweaks here and there, and we shouldn't expect any new programs to be launched in the near future. Porsche, for example, is anticipated to wind down its factory involvement in GT racing, after winning both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles in the WEC GTE Pro class this year in addition to its LMP1 victories. Instead it will focus on preparing new racing versions of the 911 for client racing teams.
The auto giant was also reportedly close to branching out into Formula One in partnership with Red Bull. But after negotiations were interrupted by emergence of the diesel emissions scandal, that deal fell apart. It remains unknown which brand might have been represented in the F1 engine-supply program. With Porsche having thoroughly trounced Audi in endurance racing this season, speculation has been mounting that the latter could be forced to take its trophies and leave Le Mans for good.
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