Demaison arrived onto the WRC scene with no earlier rally expertise, however his huge technical data helped Marcus Grönholm and Peugeot to world titles within the early 2000s.
He additionally developed an in depth relationship with Petter Solberg at Subaru and Citroën earlier than becoming a member of the formidable Volkswagen Motorsport staff in 2011.
The Frenchman took trip from his present function as technical director at Williams System 1 staff for an unique interview with Becs Williams within the newest WRC Backstories podcast.
He shared a bunch of tales, together with tales of the distinctive relationships he shared with drivers, comparisons of the engineering variations between WRC and System 1, plus the day he moved to Volkswagen.
After leaving Citroën, Demaison was resulting from meet Volkswagen Motorsport’s technical director to debate becoming a member of the German squad. He spent the earlier night time in a lodge, earlier than Kris Nissen – motorsport director on the time – referred to as and requested him to attend the workplace a number of hours early.
“I took a taxi to Volkswagen Motorsport and we had a five-minute chat,” defined Demaison. “We mainly began the interview, and after 5 minutes, we shook fingers and the choice was made. I mentioned, ‘however I used to be speculated to see the technical director,’ and he [Nissen] mentioned, ‘don’t fear, I’ll name him later and introduce you to him.’”
On the time, Volkswagen nonetheless hadn’t determined which mannequin to base their new World Rally Automobile on. Demaison recalled how, in the course of the brief however candy interview, Nissen laid out the alternatives.
“After chatting with their advertising and marketing division,’ he mentioned, ‘we now have two choices. Their most well-liked choice is to rally the Beetle. For communications, it will be implausible, however for us, we expect it’s not one of the best base automotive, and we’d desire to make use of the Polo.’
“I mentioned, ‘effectively, for me, it’s clear. Whether it is to come back and do a rally automotive with the Beetle, I’ll keep at house. There’s no level to come back’. After which, he mentioned, ‘Okay, the deal is finished. You’re employed – I’m pleased you are taking the place!’”
The sight of a Volkswagen Beetle within the FIA World Rally Championship would have been fairly extraordinary. However, from an engineer’s perspective, Demaison believed it will not have been aggressive.
“The automotive alternative was simple,” mentioned the Frenchman. “I used to be there if it was the Polo, but when it had been the Beetle, I’d not have joined the staff.
“You solely study out of your expertise – the Beetle would have been a catastrophe. It might have been good with the 2 stripes on the bonnet and quantity 53 on the doorways, however to do motorsport and never win, there is no such thing as a level,” he added.
As destiny would have it, the Polo was profitable from the get-go. Following its 2013 Rallye Monte-Carlo debut, the automotive received at 43 of the 53 rallies it began, and carried each Sébastien Ogier and Volkswagen to 4 consecutive drivers’ and producers’ titles earlier than the staff withdrew in 2016.