The German team has tackled the opening six rounds of this year’s series with a brace of Skoda Fabia Super 2000s in order to gain knowledge of the events and assess potential drivers to partner lead signing Sebastien Ogier.
At the same time, Volkswagen has been putting the Polo through a rigorous test and development programme, which Smeets says is being stepped up.
“Not going to New Zealand gives the team the time to concentrate 100 per cent in the months of June and July on the development of the Polo R WRC,” said Smeets. “We were testing in Greece and in the next weeks tests in Finland and Germany are planned.
“It also gives us the time to give the people some time off because we have had some very busy months with doing all the events and the intense development programme of the Polo R WRC. From August onwards it will be again very busy for the team with six events in four months and the testing until the end of the year. We have to be ready in January and so the testing will be speeded up towards the end of the year.”
Volkswagen has used the flyaway events in Mexico and Argentina earlier this year to assess its logistical procedures. Smeets reckoned entering a third long-haul rally was not necessary.
“From the logistic side we already learned a lot,” said Smeets. “By having the containers home two and half months earlier gives us much more time in preparing them to our needs for next year in WRC.”