New Volkswagen Motorsport boss Sven Smeets admitted he’s excited – but also nervous – ahead of his first event in charge at Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse.
The Belgian took over from outgoing managing director Jost Capito at the beginning of September and this weekend’s asphalt event in Corsica will mark the first time Smeets has been ultimately responsible for the performance of the team’s Polo R WRCs in competition.
With a glittering record under Capito, Smeets is well aware of the expectations after stepping up from his previous roles as team manager and latterly sporting director.
“This weekend is exciting for me, but yes, I’m a little bit nervous,” the 44-year-old told WRC.com. “Volkswagen has been a very good team with a lot of very good results so you don’t want to lose in your first event.
“In my pervious roles, I was doing operations and sporting things together with Jost but today I do this with FX (François-Xavier Demaison - Volkswagen Motorsport’s Technical Director) and it’s up to us.
"Taking responsibility for a company of nearly 200 people is quite something. But it’s a different type of nervous for me; it’s a positive feeling.”
Smeets, who co-drove for factory drivers Freddy Loix and François Duval in the WRC, doesn’t plan to make any sweeping changes at Volkswagen as the team already has a winning formula in place.
“I was very closely involved with building this team and the running of the team as it was before and that was running well. I don’t want to change anything for the sake of it,” he said.
“There will be some small changes over time – for instance there will be a new team manager coming in due course – and we now have a four person management board instead of two for any big decisions that need to be made.”