Volkswagen still working on private 2017 WRC entry plan

Volkswagen's 2017-specification Polo R WRC could still appear in this season's World Rally Championship, despite missing its final homologation date at the start of the year

Volkswagen still working on private 2017 WRC entry plan

The all-new Polo was scheduled to be homologated from January 1, but when no deal to finance the running of the car could be agreed with a private investor, the date passed without the process completed.

But VW motorsport director Sven Smeets has revealed that negotiations with the FIA and investors for privately-run cars to appear later in the year are still ongoing.

Smeets said a realistic timeframe for getting the car in action could be April's Tour of Corsica.

"What we are talking to the FIA about is an exceptional waiver for homologation," Smeets told Autosport.

"This sort of thing hasn't been done before, so it's clear we would need something exceptional to make it possible to use the car."

Although speculation had centred on a Nasser Al-Attiyah-fronted, Qatar-backed bid to run the VWs this year, Smeets said that project was off the agenda.

"I can tell you and confirm to you now that we are not in negotiation with Qatar," he said.

"That will help to stop the rumours. We are talking to other people and there is interest in this happening, but right now we need to address the first point [with the FIA]."

If a privately funded VW team does appear in 2017, it would have a service park presence with the factory WRC squads but not score in the manufacturers' championship - mirroring the PH Sport-run semi-works Citroen programme last year.

While the FIA and WRC Promoter are understood to be keen to see the VWs in the championship, any deal for late homologation would require unanimous backing from the participating manufacturers.

While there might be time to force any deal through before Rally Mexico in March - and possibly even next month's Rally Sweden - Smeets is adamant VW will not rush the process.

"We are working in a different timeframe now [January 1 has passed]," he said.

"If that means we have to sit out another rally to make sure people are happy with the process then we'll do that.

"The most important thing for me is that we get the car through this extraordinary process."

Work began on VW's 2017-specification World Rally Car in August 2015 and only ceased after Marcus Gronholm's final two-day snow test in northern Sweden last month.

The car is understood to be ready to start a rally immediately and the infrastructure that carried VW and Sebastien Ogier to four consecutive world championship titles remains in place.

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