Skoda boss Bernhard Maier has ruled out a return to the top-flight of the World Rally Championship using the mothballed 2017 VW Polo WRC contender.
Earlier this month VW announced it was withdrawing from the WRC at the close of the 2016 season, despite having extensively developed a car to the new-for-2017 rules.
Having previously won the world drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships for the past four seasons, recording 42 wins and 621 best special stage times, the Volkswagen Polo WRC was developed at huge cost and was widely regarded as the title favourite despite the substantial rule changes.
At the time of the announcement of VW’s withdrawal - made in the wake of the Dieselgate emissions scandal - the firm made it clear that it would not make the Polo WRC available to privateer teams, fearing that it would lead to negative headlines if a customer either won or struggled with the car.
However, speculation suggested that VW Group stablemate Skoda could relatively easily adopt the mothballed technical package around a Skoda Fabia bodystyle, ensuring that the VW Group got a return on its investment for developing the car. Skoda currently competes in the second-tier WRC2 class.
Speaking at the launch of the Skoda Kodiaq, though, Maier said: “It will not happen. We have enjoyed success in rallying and we are enjoying success in rallying, in the WRC2 category. We have a successful customer programme that doesn’t cost us money and could earn us the championship, so why would I change that?
“Doing more is not always better - what would we bring ourselves in addition to what we are already achieving in rallying? A WRC2 championship is fine for Skoda - certainly it provides the best return on money invested because it does not really cost us.
“Currently our focus is on fulfilling our product and brand offensive, with a core investment focus on electrification and digitalisation. Both of these initiatives offer far more business opportunities than any other ways of spending money, however fun they might sound.”