Volkswagen is unlikely to compete four a fourth consecutive Dakar Rally title in 2012, with the German automotive giant expected to focus its motorsport energy on its 2013 entry in the World Rally Championship.

Late last week, 2011 Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah told Autosport he did not expect to contest the world’s toughest race next year, with Volkswagen all but committed to exiting the event.

“It doesn’t look so possible now,” Al-Attiyah said. “I won’t go there without my engineer and the same team. This is not sensible and I don’t think we will be able to do it.

“It’s a great shame, I really wanted to defend my title.”

A source reportedly close to Volkswagen admitted the effort expended on Dakar would take away from the brand’s new motorsport focus, the 2013 WRC season.

“I think the realisation is coming that the WRC is an enormous program and competing on the Dakar – even as a private team with a lot of factory support – would take a lot of time away from the WRC effort.”

The decision could turn out to be a costly one for Volkswagen however, with Al-Attiyah changing his mind in the past few days. The Qatari driver now appears likely to turn his back on Volkswagen and continue rallying Dakar for a different team.

“My sponsor Barwa made it clear that they wanted me to do Dakar and I want to do Dakar,” Al-Attiyah told Autosport.

“Of course, I want to go back to defend my win. I love this rally and I was very surprised and shocked when I realised that Volkswagen changed its mind and would not be going to the rally. So I couldn’t make the agreement.”

Al-Attiyah is expected to sign with the X-Raid team and drive one of four new MINI Countryman vehicles at Dakar in 2012, and sign with another manufacturer in the WRC.

Volkswagen has committed to racing its new Polo R vehicles in the WRC until 2015 and Al-Attiyah was set to be a key driver for the team.

The deals are still to be finalised, but if seems that Volkswagen’s exit and Al-Attiyah’s defection are set in stone. What do you think: good call or bad call from Volkswagen?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • FrugalOne


    No honour in the Daker beating quasi backyard private teams with small/limited budgets and weekend drivers v’s the unlimited budget vw run outfit.

    WRC rally will be interesting up against Citroen, and Ford factory teams, need to get Lancia back in the Championship to really make it interesting.

    Its all pretend though, F1 is where the real guys play, what about it vw, lets see german engineering…

    • Trump

      Agreed, but would have thought that the VW group would be focusing on entry once the new engine regulations are settled. Looks like 2013 now with turbo V6’s instead of T4’s.

    • shane

      anything compared to VW is a backyard operation so get over it.

      VW will dominate WRC too

      • SteveP

        you sir, are deluded!!!!

    • SteveSV

      F1 over WRC? Oh please!!!

      WRC all the way & as far as I’m concerned, they’re more ‘real’ drivers than the F1 girlie men.

      If their car breaks down what do they do? Radio the team & just walk away back to the pits to have their mochas & pose with their fake supermodel girlfriends for the cameras. Where as the rally blokes, rain, hail or shine, have to get down & dirty, use whatever they have on their cars in the middle of nowhere to fix the problem. Rally drivers are REAL men who as far as I’m concerned are better drivers than the F1 guys. 300kph in a car that nearly 40odd % is driven by itself is nothing compared to speeds of up to 200kph between trees on loose gravel!!

      Sorry Frugal but there’s nothing ‘pretend’ about Rallying & especially with cars that have more connection with the real world.

      Now that I’ve had my rant I rekon it’s great that VW are joining the WRC & the Polo R looks sensational!! So that’s 4 manufacturers now. 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . GO!!!!!

  • Ima Hogg

    No instead of Volkswagen bring back Subaru and Mitsubishi suzuki Lancia and even maybe toyota. And yes I know I will be voted down because of all the haters of Toyota(Get it into your head toyota’s arnt white goods. I dont understand people saying that. They rip of the Aurion in the sportivo model which looks a heap better than any bombadore). If that all happens I will meet you all at Coffs Harbour For The Australian Round.

    • Charger

      I agree bring back Subaru etc to the WRC as its currently a Joke compared to the late 90’s and early 2000’s but you cannot seriously talk about an Aurion (the piston slap v6 i saw dozens getting engines replaced) in the same breath as a SS, XR8 in looks or performance!Torque and understeer FWD. Mabye a standard 6 cyl but thats it.

      • Ima Hogg

        Oops I think I worded the Comment wrong. I meant to say the Toyota Crolla should enter the rally and I was saying that I would get voted down for it because People hate toyota and then I went ranting about how people rip off the Aurion. And Yes the Wrc is a Joke and they should also Have Peugeot and Possibly Renault.

  • Old Dog

    What class will the polo compete in ?