Four-time WRC champion Ogier was close to Prokop-run VW deal

Sebastien Ogier came close to a deal to drive a private Volkswagen Polo R WRC run by Martin Prokop's team in the 2017 World Rally Championship before signing for M-Sport

Four-time WRC champion Ogier was close to Prokop-run VW deal

Four-time WRC champion Ogier was central to plans to run the 2017 VW independently and twice extended a contract deadline before time ran out on what became overly complicated negotiations.

Long-time WRC privateer Prokop has now joined forces with Mads Ostberg to create the Onebet Jipocar World Rally Team and run two Ford Fiestas this season.

But the original plan was to have run VWs and had Ogier on board too.

"Everything was arranged," Prokop said.

"The project had involved Red Bull, which is a partner of Sebastien.

"The cars would be with us in Jihlava.

"Ogier agreed with the fact that we would skip Monte Carlo. He said it should at least give 14 days more time for family.

"It was a beautiful idea: the Polo WRC in Jihlava, Sebastien Ogier in the car serviced by our team.

"Even the people at Volkswagen were pleased that their car would not end in a museum.

"But the reality is we have one [2017] Fiesta WRC. During the season, maybe we get another."

Reported interest in the VWs from Qatar derailed Prokop's project.

"Just before signing the contract, Volkswagen was promised money from Qatar," he said.

"Everything was jammed. Ogier showed generosity and twice extended the deadline for contract conclusion."

VW confirmed on Tuesday that the 2017-spec Polo it had spent millions developing will never be used in competition.

The FIA refused to grant the German manufacturer a waiver for the late homologation required to join run in this year's WRC as an independent entry.

Ostberg and Prokop's private Ford team will make its debut on Rally Sweden this weekend with Ostberg, while Prokop intends to join the field in Portugal in May or Sardinia in June.

Autosport says...
David Evans, Rallies Editor, @DavidEvansRally

Anybody who follows football closely will know the frustrations of deadline day. The prize catch, the game-changer is right there. The deal's going to be done; it's coming.

Then, at the last moment, with pen poised over paper, there's the flash of big club cash and it's all off.

This one really did fall down at the 11th hour. Contracts, we're told, had been prepared and that gorgeous Polo R WRC was coming. It was happening.

And who could blame Ogier for wanting to stay where he was? Why would he want to move when he'd completed thousands of testing miles in the latest incarnation of Hannover's world-beater?

Everything fitted, everything worked. Granted, the pace of ongoing development might have diminished slightly and the home comforts of Volkswagen's hospitality would have been missing, but the Ogier-Polo axis that ruled the WRC world since 2013 would have remained.

The benchmark would have been there. Instead, it's gone. Forever.

Ogier's landed on his feet and Ostberg's new squad will be well-served by M-Sport, but you can't help but feel motorsport as whole has missed a trick. And a treat.

shares
comments
2017 Volkswagen WRC Polo blocked from competing by FIA

Previous article

2017 Volkswagen WRC Polo blocked from competing by FIA

Next article

Mads Ostberg tops WRC Rally Sweden shakedown on new team's debut

Mads Ostberg tops WRC Rally Sweden shakedown on new team's debut
Load comments

About this article

Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Ogier , Martin Prokop
Author David Evans
Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished Plus

Why the casualty of rallying's evolution should still be cherished

The WRC's support categories are in a process of streamlining that will spell the end of a formalised 2WD world championship-level category. While its relevance to the top level has been questioned for some time, that doesn't mean it should be swept quietly under the carpet

WRC
Apr 5, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Plus

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Plus

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate

WRC
Mar 1, 2021
What to expect from the WRC's venture to the Arctic Plus

What to expect from the WRC's venture to the Arctic

This week's Arctic Rally Finland will bring the World Rally Championship into new territory. And, almost without exception, the service park can't wait for the subzero challenge to commence

WRC
Feb 25, 2021
How Ogier achieved a fitting Monte Carlo farewell Plus

How Ogier achieved a fitting Monte Carlo farewell

Against pandemic-shaped odds, the World Rally Championship season opener went ahead in Monte Carlo last weekend as a familiar face again took top spot. But for an emotional Sebastien Ogier, his record-breaking eighth win meant more than most

WRC
Jan 25, 2021
What to look out for in the 2021 WRC Plus

What to look out for in the 2021 WRC

As the 2021 World Rally Championship prepares to launch amid tight COVID-19 restrictions in Monte Carlo, here are the eight things unrelated to the pandemic that you should keep an eye on this year

WRC
Jan 21, 2021
Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021 Plus

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

He came close to the title last year, and now Toyota's Elfyn Evans gives his verdict on what to expect from 2021 as the World Rally Championship prepares to reconvene for the Monte Carlo season opener

WRC
Jan 20, 2021
Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call Plus

Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call

OPINION: With Rally GB dropping off the World Rally Championship calendar for the second year in a row, one of Britain's best-attended sporting events faces an uncertain future. It's an unfortunate situation that points to troubling times ahead

WRC
Jan 12, 2021