Double world champion Carlos Sainz says Volkswagen's commitment to the World Rally Championship is the next stage in returning the sport to its glory days.
Sainz competed in the halcyon days of the WRC when seven manufacturers were involved during the 1990s, and the Spaniard described the German manufacturers' decision to switch the focus of its motorsport program from Dakar to the WRC as "magnificent."
Volkswagen will begin competing in the WRC in 2013, and will use the next 20 months to develop its Polo R WRC. Sainz will be an integral part of that process.
"Today is a great day for the WRC," said Sainz. "Tomorrow it's Mini starting out in the WRC and today we have this big news from Volkswagen. This is one of the steps toward getting back to the really strong days of the WRC. VW has grown to become one of the strongest companies in the world and that this company has decided to come to the WRC is magnificent."
Sainz warned that while the firm's WRC debut remains 20 months away, that time will pass quickly.
"From today, even if it looks far away to the start of 2013, you have to work very hard to get ready in time. The goal has to be to work very hard and the aspiration has to be the maximum, but you have to be realistic when you face two very strong manufacturers like Ford and Citroen, who have a lot of experience in rallies. When you are coming as the newcomer, you have to be realistic. Citroen and Ford have been competing for a long time in the championship, so it's not going to be easy to arrive. But, it's also not easy to win Dakar and Volkswagen has done this three times, I am sure the team can adapt."
Sainz praised the change in technical regulations, which he feels has eased the firm's passage into the WRC.
He said: "The new regulations allow a new manufacturer to come and be closer than in the times of the front active diff, center active diff and rear active diff; the traction control; ABS and all of these things. I remember the last time I drove the Citroen, it was full of electronics and now this has changed. This makes it a little bit easier for Volkswagen."