Volkswagen has agreed to freeze the car development in the World Rally Championship in order to help maintain the presence of Citroen and M-Sport in the series next year. The three factory World Rally cars reach the end of a homologation cycle at the end of this year, with new cars expected for 2014.
The $4.5m cost of producing a new car would likely mean the end to M-Sport's participation in the WRC next year. With that in mind, Volkswagen has lobbied the FIA to maintain the current specification of cars, even if that compromises its own chances of success.
"We talked about what is best for the future and what's the best to keep the level of entries up in the championship," Volkswagen team principal Jost Capito explained, "and after talking about all of this, we found that the best way is to stay with the cars we have for this year."
Volkswagen had already started work on the evolution of its Polo R WRC, which has been an immediate hit taking four wins from six rounds so far this season. That car will not be seen until at least 2015, after Capito decided to put the WRC's competitiveness first.
"It's fair to say," said Capito, "that we have taken away some of our potential performance advantage for the good of the sport."
M-Sport's Malcolm Wilson hailed VW's action.
"We are very grateful for this," said Wilson. "As you can imagine for the likes of myself and Yves [Matton, Citroen team principal], it's a real positive move. We know we can still be competitive next year without having to spend millions on development.
"This has kept the championship open and, to be honest, we couldn't have done a new homologation unless Ford had come back; we wouldn't have been in position to spend the millions needed. OK, Volkswagen has still got the best two, if not three, drivers in the sport, but at least, after Jost's proposal, we know that the cars are going to be on a level playing field for next season."
The FIA confirmed that the current homologation of World Rally Cars has been frozen until the end of next season.