Volkswagen's bombshell withdrawal from the World Rally Championship next year will have major ramifications across the sport.

The German manufacturer has opted to exit rallying following an emissions scandal that has had a big impact on the company. Their decision to walk away sees the dominant team of the past four seasons leave the sport and three of the best drivers without contracts for 2017 and beyond. "The implications are huge," Autosport rally editor David Evans, who first broke the story, said yesterday. "One of the primary drivers for Toyota's return and Hyundai when they joined, was to take on and topple Volkswagen.

"They are this huge global manufacturer that everyone wants to beat."

Evans says the growth of rallying in recent times is largely due to the work Volkswagen has done.


"One of the big areas that we are going to lose in the sport is the noise that they made - they really banged the drum about what they could achieve and what they are doing. Facebook, social media - they really turned the WRC on with all that sort of stuff and we will really miss that."

Four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier is the highest profile casualty of Volkswagen's exit. The Frenchman had a contract for 2017 but is now left without a drive.

"Ogier now faces quite a difficult decision," Evans says. "He is married now and had his first child through the middle of this year. He struggled quite a bit this year - there were times this year where I could have seen him walk away mid-season. He struggled with the rules and the running order regulations. It has been a difficult year for him.

"He has always maintained that he doesn't want to chase Sebastien Loeb's record of nine titles - that is not what he is about.

"He has ambitions outside of the sport and he also wants a family life as well. Perhaps this offers him the perfect opportunity to go.

"If he stays, I could see him going back to Citroen. I'm sure Citroen could probably find some money for him.

"And if not, why not M-Sport? Just before Rally GB last week, he made a lot out of how he hadn't driven for Malcolm Wilson and how he would like to."

Evans doesn't believe this news will have any impact on Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon, who has a water-tight contract with Hyundai for 2017.