Volkswagen's WRC domination would have continued, says Capito
|By David Evans||Thursday, June 1st 2017, 10:39 GMT|
Volkswagen's domination of the World Rally Championship would have continued unabated this season had it not quit the series, former boss Jost Capito and driver Andreas Mikkelsen believe.
The German manufacturer dominated the WRC between 2013 and '16, winning both titles each year with Sebastien Ogier and 43 of a possible 52 rallies.
While Volkswagen's Motorsport director, Capito laid the foundations for the ultimately-unused 2017 Polo R WRC built to the new technical platform.
Capito also implemented what was felt a brave - and decidedly unpopular with the drivers - plan to focus last year's testing budget on the new car, which he believes would be paying off now.
"Volkswagen would have had a big advantage at the start of this season; Volkswagen started working earlier than anybody else on the '17 regulations," Capito told Autosport.
"For the last year we hardly ever tested the 2016 car, it was always the new one.
"The guys went to the rally with no testing in the '16 and development on that one had stopped at the end of the 2015.
"From then on, we were flat out working on 2017."
Capito, who left Volkswagen in 2016 for a spell with the McLaren Formula 1 team, is adamant it had everything in place.
"When you see the guys who left Volkswagen driving other cars and complaining about these vehicles - and you know they did all the tests for the '17 Polo - then you know that Volkswagen would have had the better package," he said.
"It's obvious from the time Volkswagen spent on the car.
"As a manufacturer you have to do the very best you can.
"We were paid to win, but having said that, I think it would have been a lot closer this year than it had been in the recent seasons - that's what happens when you have major technical regulation change.
"It is, though, extremely frustrating to have put our heart into the project and to be in such a good position and then not to be able to harvest the seeds we had sown.
"Everybody was looking forward to seeing how the car would run."
Team-mates Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala found 2017 rides with M-Sport and Toyota respectively, but Mikkelsen started the new season in WRC2.
Having made three second-class starts with Skoda, Mikkelsen will compete in one of this year's new WRC cars for the first time with Citroen on Rally Italy in June.
He agreed with his former boss Capito's assessment.
"The '17 Polo was a very, very impressive car," Mikkelsen said.
"And look at the world championship standings at the moment: Ogier is leading and Latvala is there and I think we would have been as well.
"So, yeah, I can see what Jost is saying - it's just a shame the dream didn't become the reality."