London - Volkswagen is set to pull out of the World Rally Championship at the end of the 2016 season, with the decision coming only days after it won a fourth consecutive title.
Britain's Autocar and Autosport magazines on Tuesday quoted sources as saying the decision was taken at a board meeting in Wolfsburg, with an announcement expected on Wednesday.
Volkswagen is battling to recover from an emissions scandal that is set to cost it billions of dollars in compensation and vehicle refits.
Autocar quoted a senior source as saying: “The priority is to advise our employees of the plans first; we will then make the decision to pull out of the WRC public. Until then, there will be nothing official.”
Autocar reported that the board had pledged to retain the 200 Volkswagen Motorsport employees and could re-deploy them on other programmes, possibly including Skoda's rally efforts.
A spokesman for Volkswagen could not be immediately reached for a comment.
Toyota, Citroen to return
The Volkswagen WRC team has won the Drivers' championship for the past four years with France's Sebastien Ogier. The team’s exit will take some of the steam out of the 2017 world rally series, when radical rule changes set to make for more spectacular cars take effect, but will be compensated for by the return of Toyota after an absence of 16 years with a team led by team principal Tommi Makinen and lead driver Juho Hanninen, and Citroen, which took a year off in 2016 to prepare a new WRC car, based on the C3, for the 2017 regulations.
Audi, also part of the Volkswagen group, announced last week that it was pulling out of the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours race to focus on the all-electric Formula E series.