I recently caught up with Sirish Vissa, where he shared what Volkswagen Motorsport India plans for the 2019 season.
2018 was a great year for Volkswagen Motorsport in every regard, what are the new initiatives and changes we will see this year?
2018 was indeed an excellent year for us at Volkswagen Motorsport India in both Customer Sport programme as well as our one-make Ameo Cup. Volkswagen Polo and Polo R2 together secured 37 podium positions and 10 victories altogether in Overall, INRC 1, INRC 2 and INRC 3 categories in the 2018 season.
We will follow the same direction in 2019 and continue to participate and prove the excellence of Volkswagen Polo cars in rallying through our Customer Sport programme. For 2019, we are further developing and updating our Polo R2 to make it even more competitive.
In terms of power, setup and development what changes will we see in the 2019 Ameo cup car compared to last year’s model?
We are always keeping ourselves busy with constant development – even if there are no major upgrades. In 2019, the Ameo Cup race car will see a few minor tweaks and fine tuning to the overall setup, especially in terms of suspension. The Ameo Cup racecar has been built in a way that it is friendly to newcomers and challenging to the pros as well. It is a fine balance that we have already achieved and there is not much we would like to change in it at the moment.
Volkswagen motorsport saw success in the Indian rally circuit. Are we going to see the team participate in more events this year? Also, when do we see a full blown national level Volkswagen rally like the Ameo Cup?
Our Customer Sport programme is an extremely important initiative for us through which we support privateers and their teams with technical and spares support during INRC. We will continue being present at all the rounds of the INRC even this year and not compromise on any support that we extend to our customers.
A full blown rally series on the lines of Ameo Cup is something that we are not exploring. We want to stay in open competition and not restrict it in any way. Also, a factory team itself in the national rally championship is something we are consciously staying away from.
2019 marks the 10th year of Volkswagen Motorsport in India. Anything special planned to mark this occasion?
Of course! Volkswagen Motorsport India is entering its 10th year in 2019 and the idea is to stay committed to the Indian motorsport fraternity. We will continue the premium one-make series Ameo Cup in the same format as before. We are expanding our Customer Sport programme, which initially started only with rally cars and was limited to a segment, to proper involvement with variety of specs for different categories. We are also in Indian Touring Car championship now with cars that have the potential to be front runners. All in all, we have grown across different forms and series of motorsport in India and will continue with our commitment.
How soon can we expect different OEM’s to start competing with each other at the national motorsport level?
This is more of a question for other OEMs! We have been participating in both rallying and in the Indian Touring Car Championship (ITC) where the idea is to compete with other manufacturers. We would love to see others join in as this will make the sport more exciting for the spectators, and also add to the sport. The new ITC regulations as well as the turbo regulations in the INRC are both forward looking and are intended to make it viable for manufacturers to bring in current and future generation cars. I believe that we will start to see some changes within the next year.