German car builder has big plans for gas-powered racers
You wouldn’t guess from the outside of the building that the Volkswagen motor sport facility in Hannover plays a part in every single race car the company builds. Only a small ‘Volkswagen Motorsport’ sign gives away what goes on inside.
As soon as you walk through the door, though, you are faced with an entire wall of trophies that remind you just how much this manufacturer does on the race track, and how well it does it. Its sibling Audi might be better known for sporting success with its history at Le Mans and in the German DTM touring car series, but Stefan Moser, head of marketing and communications for Volkswagen Motorsport, is not interested in series that bear little resemblance to the company’s road cars. “Right now, Formula 1 and some other series just aren’t of interest to us,” he tells me in between meetings. “In F1 the engines are far away from anything we produce, as are the cars. We are waiting for the global race engine and when that comes, we’ll see what we can do – it will be possible to do anything.
“Right now, we’re looking carefully at the World Rally Championship. The Dakar rally is a fantastic event to showcase your talent, but it only happens once a year and it’s very difficult to keep the marketing fire alight for 12 months. The problem with the WRC at the moment is that it’s badly promoted on TV, which is a shame; you can’t watch it on German TV. I think they’re sorting this, so we’ll see.”
Volkswagen has thrown its weight behind bio-methane power, however. Its gas-burning Scirocco is known to many after its success in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and to Motor Sport readers after I was lucky enough to get behind the wheel of one at Oschersleben. VW has now launched the Scirocco Cup (with cars running on gas) in place of the Polo Cup that previously supported the DTM. “We had the Polo Cup, which was just for junior drivers and somewhere to gain experience, and my intention was to make it more exciting,” says Moser. “In the Scirocco Cup we’ve already sold the 30 grid slots and we’ve got 15 juniors, 10 pros – meaning professional or promising drivers – and five legends in each race. In the first race Martin Brundle will drive along with Derek Bell, and we’re also talking to Trevor Carlin and Damon Hill.
“It should be better for the fans and also the junior drivers. Last year when they came 11th, they came 11th; this year they may finish in the same place, but they may also be able to tell the press at home that they finished two places behind a former F1 driver.”
Even though the cost for a full season is, at the very least, 50,000 euros the full grid speaks for itself. Expensive it may be but, as Moser puts it, it’s a “nice story” with the gas power link and the series will receive extensive television coverage thanks to its slot alongside the DTM. The racing started on April 25, after Motor Sport closed for press, but look out in particular for future rounds at the Norisring, Hockenheim and the Nürburgring.