So I’ll run this story again, for those of you who are still seeing things pop up on the internets that make you a little excited.
I’ll be happy to be wrong on this as I’d love to see a 92 come sooner and I’d loooooove to see Saab in the WRC, but I just can’t believe it’ll happen in the timeframe that people are talking about.
See why, below.
I received a few emails about a story that I would have liked to cover if the webs were working, though. The first one was from Portugal and the story then spread to an English-language racing paper called Autosport. They made the following declaration:
The World Rally Championship’s return of retrospective manufacturers looks set to continue, with Saab now tipped to follow Mini back to the sport’s highest level.
Saab, which last competed in the WRC in 1979, has been linked to a possible entry in 2012, with the company’s first World Rally car running off a possible 9-1 or 9-2 base car. The engine for the car would be likely to come from BMW, meaning a universal 1.6-liter turbocharged motor for the Mini and Saab.
They go on to say that meetings have taken place and by the end of the story, it all seems like a fait accompli.
We all know that Victor Muller is very keen on motorsport and he’s even mentioned that rallying would be the most appropriate form of motorsport for Saab, should they ever get to a stage where a factory motorsport team is feasible.
Personally, I’d love to see it happen, too. I love motorsport, love rallying, and would absolutely love to see my favourite brand competing on the world stage once again.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to inject a small dose of reality into this one before we all get carried away.
First of all, motorsport is probably priority #1156 or thereabouts for Saab right now. When you get to a certain level of comfortable production and profitability, motorsport can then be inserted and become a key pillar in your technology and marketing programs. Take Renault, for example.
Saab aren’t at that stage, or anywhere near it.
Secondly, the car that autosport suggest will be the one Saab uses for their WRC entry isn’t in Saab’s business plan, and even if they manage to add it to Saab’s portfolio (which they’re quietly confident of doing), it won’t be released for another 3 or 4 years.
Want a source for that? How about Victor Muller himself?
This video at Fox will give you your answers (he talks about the Phoenix platform, too, though not by name).
The WRC is a very desireable aim for Saab, but it’s not likely to happen in the next two years. Reports claiming that it is are overly optomistic.