Times are tough and money is tight - even for the world's most profitable automaker, Volkswagen. As a result, Dakar Rally sponsorship appears to be over.
Usually when an automaker cements itself as a leader in a motorsport it tends to dig deeper and continue throwing money at the sport to help promote its success - but as many know, there isn't much that is ordinary when it comes to the Dakar Rally.
VW has dominated the last three years of the famous Dakar rally, overcoming diversity including a switch from the traditional Saharan desert location following terrorist threats. That success, however, came with extensive factory support and phenomenal driving by Nasser Al-Attiyah, neither of which appear to be making a return for the next rally, according to Yahoo! Sport in the United Kingdom.
After VW told Nasser that they would not be providing a race-ready Touareg and the factory support that usually comes with it, the driver also reportedly decided to switch to either a Ford or a Citroen for a bid at the World Rally Championship.
"My sponsor Barwa made it clear that they wanted me to do Dakar," said Al-Attiyah, "and I want to do Dakar. Of course, I want to go back to defend my win, I love this rally and I was very surprised and shocked when I realised that Volkswagen changed its mind and would not be going to the rally. So I couldn't make the agreement."
Nasser is now looking to join the X-Raid team, which has finished second to the joint effort by Nasser and VW in recent years. The X-Raid team fields MINI rally cars, something Nasser says he believes can get the job done.
Meanwhile, VW is committed to WRC through 2015, which means the automaker will have to procure a new driver as Nasser has already committed to a Ford Fiesta-based Super 2000 World Rally Championship car for later this year.
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