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GP Week : Issue 115
Dane Kris Nissen was a prominent racing driver on his own account, surviving a serious accident in a Porsche 962 in Japan, before becoming Director of Volkswagen Motorsport. He spoke with Martin Holmes 5 Minutes with ... Kris Nissen It took a little longer than expected before Volkswagen confirmed wide rumours that the marque was ready to enter the world rally championship after over 30 years of successful competition at lower levels of the sport. 50-year- old Kris Nissen is the man charged with overseeing that programme. GPWEEK: What are the primary objectives with the Polo R WRC project? KRIS NISSEN: We would be very disappointed if we were not fighting for the championship by the third year. If we did not have our first win in the second year we would also be disappointed. Our aim is to start at a high level with a good car, good engine and a good team, but we know how strong Citroen are and that Ford are always pushing very hard to beat them, and that Mini has a great team behind them and in one or two years they will also be competitive. It would be easier if everybody could do it, but we are not everybody, we are Volkswagen. Rumours have circulated that VW planned to enter the top level of rallying for some time, but it took a long time for this announcement to be made. I never made any promises as to when we would say we would do this programme, and the final decision took longer than expected, but that was because there were such a lot of people in the company who had to be involved, and they all raised new questions which we had to discuss. We know that in some countries rallying used to be bigger and used to be on a better marketing level, a close second only to F1, so there are a lot of jobs to be done promoting the sport at this time. I am sure we can all help move to a much higher level (promotional) in a short time. When was the green light finally given for the WRC programme? There was never a red light against rallying, but there had been a green light to do the research into rallying. The final decision to go ahead was taken at the end of 2010, but still conditional on various things being sorted out. It was after the triple Dakar victory that everybody agreed it was time for a new challenge. All of us were sad to leave the Dakar family. The sales and marketing people have a lot of opportunities because of this programme over the next few years. Where does the decision for VW to enter WRC rallying leave their currently successful associated company Skoda so far as any aspirations they may have also to go into WRC? The Skoda team has done a fantastic job over the last years. The future of Skoda rally activities must be talked and discussed with VW colleague Mr Hrbanek to find out what their company are planning to do. If Skoda also comes to the WRC then we can share the bill for coffee and beers and then we will see who takes the champagne! We have two brand new Skoda cars in the WRC and will start running with them in the second part of 2011 and the additional races in 2012. Can you be more expansive about what drivers are likely to drive your rally cars? We need good drivers. We would like to have a young Michele Mouton and a Walter Rohrl Junior but unfortunately the son of Carlos Sainz is going towards F1 rather than rallying so we have one car free! Seriously, we are planning to run three cars in the championship in 2013. 20