vw clears the air over its racing future
Volkswagen Group’s ongoing emissions
scandal will not significantly affect the
automotive giant’s motorsport activities,
according to new boss Matthias Muller.
The German manufacturer supports a
two-pronged clash of titans in sportscar
racing with Porsche and Audi, as well as VW’s
wildly successful WRC campaign, and Muller
said speculation that problems elsewhere
would have a major impact underestimates
the value VW derives from those activities.
“The motorsports programs are not in
danger of being dropped or significantly
Everyone’s hero needs a rival, and the
Chevrolet-vs-Ford struggle for automotive
bragging rights has long ranked among
the signature themes of motorsports.
Next year it will be renewed in sportscar
racing, as Ford’s new GT arrives in
IMSA’s Weather Tech Championship in
partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing to
take on the works Corvette Racing team.
Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook,
Dirk Muller and Joey Hand have been
selected for full-time rides in the two
Ford entries. Hand and Muller will
co-drive the No. 66 Ford GT, while
Briscoe and Westbrook take the reins of
the No. 67 Ford GT. Those car numbers
are significant – the original predecessor
of the Ford GT, the GT40, won at Le Mans
in 1966 and ’ 67 with Shelby-American
Inc. (and in ’ 68 and ’ 69, too, courtesy of
John Wyer Automotive Engineering).
“At this level, all drivers are fast. We
want drivers who can work well with
others,” said Ganassi. “Drivers who have
endurance car experience. Drivers who’ve
been to Le Mans. All these things add up.
It’s a team of drivers that act like they’ve
been together for quite a while already.”
Corvette Racing has reacted positively
to Ford’s return – and also bolstered its
own driver lineup for 2016. Marcel
Fassler and Mike Rockenfeller – both
veterans of Audi’s sportscar racing
programs – have been added to the
Corvette lineup for IMSA’s season-opening
enduros at Daytona and Sebring.
Muller (AT RIGHT)
Webber on his WEC
P1 driver’s title, part
of a sweep of P1 and
GTE Pro titles for
Porsche this year.
reduced because motorsports is very
important for the group and the brands,”
he said on a visit to the World Endurance
Championship finale at Bahrain, where
Porsche clinched its first prototype class
world crowns since 1986.
However, two definite casualties of the
group-wide cost savings that VW has been
forced to initiate are the third cars Audi
and Porsche usually enter for the 24 Hours
of Le Mans, meaning Porsche drivers Nick
Tandy and Earl Bamber will not get the
chance to defend their 2015 overall win.
A classic rivalry starts anew in IMSA as Ford’s GT arrives to take on Chevy
twisting the american tale
Sebastien Vettel, who won six straight
Nations Cup crowns in the end-of-year Race
of Champions with Michael Schumacher,
won his first overall title in London, besting
“Mr. Le Mans” Tom Kristensen in the final.
black of Corvette’s
C7.R in testing
of Chevy’s rivalry
with the Blue Oval.
A new generation of
driving stars and
technology puts Ford
squarely back in the
GT racing spotlight.
Audi’s latest LMP1 R18 e-tron quattro
(ABOVE) will race in the 2016 WEC in
the 6MJ hybrid sub-class, up from 4MJ.