Spanish Report: More Fuel for the WRC Fire

An article published yesterday on spanish website as.com claims that Saab will be joining the WRC for the 2013 season. Now before you all attack me for posting silly conjecture from around the internet tubes, I thought I’d at least diffuse this story before it got around. A rough English translation:

“A good time for poetry. After crossing the desert in the World Rally Championship, we can glimpse light at the end of the tunnel [and it looks like brighter times are ahead]. Even now there are only two brands, Citroen and Ford, Mini is one step of his debut in May in Sardinia and Volkswagen will announce its entry into the next week in Portugal. To complete the party, Saab will also be involved in the spectacular sport with its future compact model, to be called 9-2 or 9-1.

The Swedish brand has been acquired by Dutch sports car maker Spyker, in turn owned by Russian tycoon Vladimir Antonov, a lover of rallies to just buy the company that owns the television rights of the championship, North One’s next step is the introduction of Saab in the World Cup, scheduled for 2013, but could even get ahead of the next season.

The Swedish firm is not new in the sections, and with four wins in the Rally of Sweden, in 1973, 1977 and 1979 by Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund in 1976. For the moment and have started their bids to different specialty engineers, and have fellow Russian Evgeny Novikov to be ready to pilot the car for the challenge.”

Now before you start salivating (“but Jeff, they even know the driver’s name, it must be true!”) remember the 9-1 isn’t even in the business plan yet. For it to even come to fruition by 2013, when the new 9-3 launches, would be a minor miracle. Undoubtedly work and plans are being hatched behind the scenes in Trollhättan while they decide what partners would make sense for such a model, but until there is an official indication that Saab is closer to a deal, this report is pie in the sky conjecture. I’m not saying I necessarily don’t believe it could happen, just that I’m weary of the source and certainly wondering about their own sources. Hopefully they prove right.

That said this is as good a time as ever to throw the idea out there, if a small Saab is green lighted, do you think it’s a good idea for Saab to immediately get involved with the World Rally Championship? What priority would you place on it, and why? Sound off in comments.

 

Thanks for the tip Marco!

Saab ‘tipped’ to enter WRC – with a car that won’t even be made?

Re-posted.

Even CAR Magazine and Autoblog are writing about this issue now, but none of the excitable writers are doing the maths when it comes to Saab releasing a new car that would be suitable for the WRC.

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.

BUT…….

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.

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