Efforts to bring the prestigious World Rally Championship in India will have whole-hearted support from Volkswagen Motorsport, team boss Jost Capito said here today.
Capito, who is set to take over as Formula One McLaren team CEO soon, said India is a fast developing economy and it is only good for the sport to be there.
“India is one of the upcoming and emergent markets and it’s really valid to have rallies in important markets and emergent markets. So we would be very supportive of having a rally in India. That’s for sure,” Capito told reporters on the sidelines of the Finland round of the WRC here.
Asked if they will go an extra yard to make this happen, Capito’s reply was “Absolutely”.
“We work with Volkswagen India, we support them in development of cars. They have a rally program. We are in regular contact with VW Motorsport India to support them and also to get program approved,” he said.
FIA President Jean Todt had showed willingness to have a WRC round in India when he said that India has the potential to host an international rally.
“It is sad that there is not a World Rally Championship round in India. It is a very big country. And contrary to road safety, it is good to have bad roads for rallying. India has the potential to host an international rally,” Todt had said last year.
Motorsport’s popularity in India shot up when the country hosted Formula One races in 2011, 2012 and 2013 but it did not return due to taxation issues even though the promoters, JPSI had a five-year contract with the FOM.
When prodded about chances of supporting India’s premier rally drivers such as Gaurav Gill, Capito expressed helplessness.
“It is difficult for us because we only have the WRC programme. The drivers have to come through (on their own). We are in contact with VW India. They see and give us information what the drivers are, so as soon as somebody come through, of course will get the chance,” he said.
“As manufacturers we have three cars and we have to take three best (racers). We have to get best possible drivers. You have to be in position to win rallies, otherwise we can’t win the championships,” said Capito.
Gill is competing in APRC for the last 10 years and in 2013 became the first Indian to win Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
Asked about the reasons to leave Volkswagen Motorsports and join McLaren, Capito made it clear that the decision was not in any way linked to any issue with VW.
“It’s not linked to Volkswagen. I had a lot of freedom and support from the Board. The only reason is that you dream of this and when you have such opportunity, you can’t leave. And without the love and support of Volkswagen I would not have go into this position,” he said.
Volkswagen’s technical Project leader Francois-Xavier Demaison said the team will continue making good strides in the absence of Capito.
“The new boss will be as good as Jost. We will have same drivers and same cars,” he said.
Capito said he can speak with authority on his plans for McLaren only after he joins the team and has all relevant information.
“I first have to get into the team. You can’t see that from outside. This (WRC) is still a full time job. It would not make any sense to take any conclusions when you don’t have full information. First I have to get my feet into the water. Then take time, evaluate, what can be improved,” he said.
“They are improving all the time, they are going in right direction.”