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VOLKSWAGEN’S drivers have joined other leading figures in the WRC by reacting to news the German manufacturer will stop its program after Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford said the decision was disappointing but Volkswagen would leave a record of outstanding achievement at the Coffs Coast event.

Writing on Facebook, Sébastien Ogier said: “Most important to say for me now: I feel so sorry for my fantastic team at Volkswagen Motorsport! We had 4 outstanding successful years together! I want to thank everyone of this great team for their passion and support! Don’t worry about me, we gonna see us again!!!”

Latvala Tweeted: “Very sad news for the whole team. We will keep in our minds & hearts the amazing adventure we have shared together. Thank you 4 these years.”

Mikkelsen also offered his gratitude to the German team and pledged to round off the season in style. “Thx to all my friends at @VolkswagenRally so sorry it has to stop after this season. But first, let’s finish off with a Rally Australia win!” he said.

Rival manufacturers also commented on Volkswagen’s decision.

“All of us at Hyundai Motorsport are sad to hear the news,” team principal Michel Nandan wrote. “They have been fierce competitors and, for a new team coming into the sport like ours, have been a real inspiration. We have thrived on raising our own level to match theirs in the past three seasons, and had looked forward to competing against them in 2017 with new cars for all of us. Their impressive achievements in recent years will continue to motivate us.”

Citroën Racing ‏tweeted: “We’re sad after @VolkswagenRally’s announcement, as we were hoping for a fierce battle in the next #WRC seasons. We remain focus on our aim.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s WRC team wrote: “It’s a pity to see that @VolkswagenRally is pulling out of #WRC. We were looking forward 2017 with great fights. Feeling sorry 4 the team.”

Oliver Ciesla, managing director of WRC Promoter said: “We are sorry to learn about Volkswagen’s decision to withdraw as a manufacturer team from the FIA World Rally Championship. However, Volkswagen’s confirmation that it will develop a Polo R5 car for customer use indicates its recognition that the WRC provides the perfect platform to showcase globally the quality of its products.

“In the four seasons since it joined WRC, Volkswagen has enjoyed great success and helped contribute to a resurgence of interest in the series. We thank Volkswagen Motorsport’s entire team for its support and enthusiasm.

“Next season brings an exciting new era for the WRC. Toyota and Citroën have chosen to return to join Hyundai and M-Sport, meaning four of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers will participate. More powerful and visually dynamic World Rally Cars will provide a fabulous spectacle, and fans across the globe should be ready for a thrilling year.”

Rally Australia’s Ben Rainsford said Volkswagen Motorsport would be farewelled in style.

“Volkswagen Motorsport brought an outstanding level of professionalism to the sporting and promotional aspects of their WRC participation and created many wonderful memories at Rally Australia since 2013. We’ll be sorry to see them leave the WRC and sorry we won’t be seeing the promising new 2017 Polo R WRC in action.

“The victories of Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia here in 2013, 2014 and 2015 contributed to the make winning the manufacturers’ championship in those years and we’ll never forget Rally Australia last year, when the team secured the drivers’, co-drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles on the Coffs Coast stages.

“Kennards Hire Rally Australia will be Volkswagen’s last WRC appearance. This will add a special significance to our event and we’ll make sure Volkswagen Motorsport is farewelled in style.”

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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