Speaking publicly for the first time after his appointment as Motorsport Director for Volkswagen, the Belgian former VW team manager, Sven Smeets, told journalists how the transition will take place.  

“As from Corsica I will also do my previous role and on the rally that will be the one that will be the most important.  In the coming months I will expand my previous role on events, together with other parts that Jost was doing, like attending the Press Conferences and talking to the media.

“The emphasis on running the team on an event will continue until, in due course, we announce a new team manager.  

“Technical director, FX Demaison, and the Director of Engine Development, Donatus Wichelhaus, will, however, stay in charge of their current departments, being on the Management Board of Volkswagen Motorsport.  

“Never before have there been so many active motorsport people on the board.  The company used to be run just by Jost and the Commercial Director.”.  

It sounds like a stronger position for Motorsport in the Company.
Regarding the contentious WRC issues of the moment, Sven is optimistic that things would change next year.  

“My personal opinion is that the running order rules must be more fair.  We are talking with the FIA and the Promoters, but for me it is clear we must come up with a solution where everyone has a chance on every surface to win, even if the negative side is that they may sometimes have to open the road.  

“I am very optimistic that a solution will be better than what we have today.”   

A lot of people are thinking that the present arrangement, which has brought six different winners to the world championship is a very good arrangement and doesn’t need changing.  But you don’t agree?  

“I have nothing against six winners, but then it should also be that these six winners are fighting for a championship, but today this is not the case.  

“So you can look to it as the six winners is good or not good.  I mean, if the six winners are fighting for the championship, okay.  

“I have nothing against Kris (Meeke) winning Portugal and his performance in Finland, but it is not normal that somebody so benefits from the starting order that it gives such an advantage that it is very hard for the people who are from 1 to 5 in the championship to win a rally.  

“This is not fair and also not fair to the sport, and not fair on the people who are investing in this sport.  Maybe it looks good on paper, but in the end it is also not what we want.”
Part of Sven’s new responsibility is to be in control of Volkswagen competition customer work.   

“This is something that I have to look into, yes, but there are no immediate plans at the moment.  We are focussing on the WRC 2017 and to map out future strategies.  

“My dream now is to keep the two titles in motorsport and fight hard for this, and to have a strategy ready for the company to continue after 2019.  

“We are already working on a strategy to continue after ’19.   Better start early rather than late.  It was already started by Jost.   

“2020 should be the start of a new homologation three year period, but our Board is also looking at the other possibilities available on the market.  This is very clear.”
- Martin Holmes

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