Wednesday | 31 Aug 2016 interview: Jost Capito, Part 1

After masterminding Ford's WRC programme from 2003 until 2012, and Volkswagen's since then, Jost Capito bowed-out of the WRC at ADAC Rallye Deutschland bound for a new role as CEO of McLaren Formula One.

Sven Smeets, the man who will take over at Volkswagen from 1 September, has a tough act to follow. Among Capito's many achievements are leading Ford to WRC manufacturers' titles in 2006 and 2007 and overseeing Volkswagen's three consecutive WRC title wins - for both manufacturers' and drivers' - in the last three years.

Before he left for McLaren's UK base, caught up with Capito to find out more about his WRC years - and why he has vowed to make the F1 paddock huge rally fans.

Q: Can you remember attending your first WRC rally?
JC: "Of course, it was the Acropolis Rally Greece in 2003. I was with Ford and it was when we introduced BP Castrol as the main sponsor. I remember that very well. And we won by the way, with Markko Martin. I also remember it was the start of our 'happy hour' media functions. They are still going now, so it must have been a good idea."

Q: You clearly have a passion for the WRC. What makes it so special to you?
JC: "I think it's the variety. The WRC has it all: speed, endurance, long days, driving on normal roads. And then there's the team-work; with two people in the car and another team working to support them. Of course it is also very challenging but at the same time it's down to earth and accessible to supporters. Overall it's a very nice sport."

Q: You have enjoyed lots of success in the WRC. Is there one achievement that you are most proud of?
JC: "Winning Rallye Monte Carlo with Ford in 2006 was fantastic. Winning that particular rally for the first time was very special. And then winning the manufacturers' championship in 2006 as well - it was the first time for Ford for 27 or 28 years. Then of course there was Volkswagen's first year in 2013 when we won all the titles. That was something that nobody had expected. At Ford, everybody expected to win the title every year!"

Q: What was it that persuaded you to leave WRC for F1?
JC: "For me, rallying is a fantastic motorsport, but Formula One is the pinnacle. It's not just Formula One that made up my mind, because I've been there before, it was more McLaren. McLaren is one of the two teams alongside Ferrari that has been consistently in F1 for 50 years. When I was a kid I was a huge fan of Bruce McLaren so I've followed the team all my life since I was five or six. I never dreamed of running its Formula One team - so this is like a boy's dream coming true. When I got this chance I couldn't say no."

Q: What advice do you have for your successor at Volkswagen?
JC: "Be world champion every year! We have a fantastic team, and rally is THE team sport in motorsport. And if you have a fantastic team I would say keep it as it is. Keep it running, keep the people happy and keep successful."

Part two of this interview will be published on Thursday 1 September.


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