The last major withdrawal before our friends from Paris came in the shape of the sudden, and scandal-induced, disappearance of Volkswagen from the stages. VW had arrived in the WRC in 2013, armed with the aforementioned Ogier, and proceeded to dominate all that came before of them – Ogier won all but three rallies in his first season with the team. By the end of 2016 they had won the championship four times, all with Ogier, and with new rules on the horizon the competition from Hyundai, Toyota, Citroën and M-Sport hotting up things were looking tasty in the WRC.
Then, suddenly, after their new car had already been seen in action several times, Volkswagen announced they were off. The ‘dieselgate’ scandal had bitten and coincided almost all VAG group motorsport projects to the history bin. Ogier was left scrambling for a new seat (he ended up winning two more titles with the under-funded M-Sport Ford team) and the WRC had lost one of its biggest financial backers. However the light at the end of the tunnel was that, with VW gone, suddenly the WRC became much, much more competitive.