09 Feb 2019
US rallycross veteran Tanner Foust is finalising plans for his 2019 Americas Rallycross programme with Volkswagen and Andretti Autosport.
The two-time Global Rallycross champion’s future was thrown into doubt after Volkswagen’s withdrawal from World Rallycross and the subsequent speculation that the manufacturer’s US effort had met the same fate.
However, while Volkswagen of America has changed its marketing focus to soccer, it is keen to remain involved with rallycross and Foust has been working hard over the winter to put the team’s programme together for 2019.
“I haven’t missed a rallycross race in the US to-date, whether its GRC or Nitro or ARX, so I hope to continue racing,” Foust told DominikWilde.com. “We have great hardwear with Volkswagen, a great team with Andretti, and we’re doing everything we can to keep all of those pieces of the puzzle together.”
“While I’m optimistic about driving in ’19 with a programme that will essentially look unchanged from the outside, behind the scenes there’s been a lot of work to put it together and I’m looking forward to making some kind of announcement.”
“I will say that Rockstar, whether its without having a schedule or without understanding who the organiser or promoter is, they have been incredibly supportive of whatever programme we do,” he added. “We’ve had a long-term relationship, this is now going into my 13th year with Rockstar and for them to be supportive of whatever we’ve put in front of them has really been the saving grace for potentially getting us on the track this year.”
Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross has won the last four US championships with its potent Beetle platform – of the 45 races the car has entered across GRC, X Games, ARX, and Nitro Rallycross, it has won 27 times (Foust claiming 14 of those victories). This year could very well be a swansong for the car, with its road-going counterpart going out of production at the end of 2019 and as a result it hasn’t had the extensive development that Subaru’s WRX STI and Loenbro Motorsports’ Ford Fiesta have had. Nevertheless, Foust still believes it will be the car to beat this season.
“I think it will be very difficult this year since we don’t have a new car – 2019 is the last year of the Beetle so it didn’t make sense to do a lot of development,” he said.”[But] I think the Beetles are well designed and well engineered, and while the other teams are progressing forward and will be much more competitive I think we still have the car to beat. It’s still very strong, it’s still a winning car.”
Foust also revealed that the team will be looking to field a two-car team, despite the departure of Scott Speed to Subaru.
“I think if we are going to race I think it’s important to have two cars, especially with three Subarus and two Fords out there,” he said. “The season is so short that if one of the other cars takes you out in one of the races, essentially your season could be done, so I really think that you need to have a couple of cars.”
“I think that you need to work together as a team and be strong competitors so the person who drives that second car is critical. The series needs as many cars as it can get in these transitional years so we’re really working hard towards having a two-car team.”
Despite the doubts over the longevity of Volkswagen’s US rallycross presence, Foust wasn’t tempted to return to former allies Subaru or Ford for 2019, saying that the team built up by Volkswagen and Andretti Autosport over the last five seasons is ‘something special’.
“I’ll be honest I never thought about driving a different car,” Foust insisted. “I really feel like I’ve made some great allies with Volkswagen both here in the US and in Germany and I really think that the engineering and racing combination that we created with Volkswagen and Andretti is something special.”
“I never thought about going anywhere else.”