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28 July 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Solberg and Polo GTI R5 storm 2020 Rally di Roma Capitale on full asphalt debut

2020 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rally di Roma Capitale: Solberg

Oliver Solberg celebrated his FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) return at the 2020 Rally di Roma Capitale (24-26 July) by driving his PA Racing-backed Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 to third place. The 18-year-old’s full asphalt debut saw him run in third from the fifth stage until the end of the 123-mile event.

‘For me, this is a little bit like winning,’ said the son of triple World Rally Champion (WRC) Petter Solberg. ‘Before the start, I didn’t know anything about where my speed would be. I drove Rallye Monte-Carlo which is a little bit of a tarmac rally, but the set-up for the car is quite different.

‘Competition is tough’
‘People were asking me before I started where I could finish, and I hoped to be in the top 10. The competition here is tough, there are a lot of drivers who have been driving on asphalt for all of their careers. When I posted a second fastest time on SS5, it was fantastic,’ the young driver continued. Oliver is no stranger to strong performances on the European Rally Championship – he became the youngest-ever winner of an ERC round after victory at the 2019 Rally Liepāja, aged 17.

‘The first day was a really tough one: the roads were so twisty, so technical and complicated – but it was actually Sunday where I was thinking it would be more difficult. On Sunday the roads were faster and wider, which meant there were different lines to take into the corners.’ Solberg Junior also lost his glasses and hit a rock on SS2, which cost him some time. But he made up for it during SS10, where he was fastest through before the rally leaders cars’ arrived.  

2020 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rally di Roma Capitale: Solberg

‘So much fun’
Oliver praised the work of his father in helping him fine-tune his pacenotes. ‘Dad was helping Aaron (Johnston, co-driver) and me with the notes while we were watching the onboards. That gave me good confidence, and when we started on Sunday I was really enjoying it. I drove the same tyres for two loops to give me more experience of how it feels to have the car moving around beneath me when the tyres are wearing more; honestly, I really, really enjoyed it. It was so much fun,’ Oliver enthused.

‘I know I have a lot more to learn, but I can really say now that I love driving on asphalt. I understand some of how the car and tyre combination works – it’s so different to gravel, but it’s very cool. I have to say a big thanks to the whole team at PA Racing and, of course, to Pirelli – having Terenzio (Testoni, head of rally and off-road competitions) helping me this weekend has been fantastic.’

2020 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rally di Roma Capitale: Basso

Away from Solberg’s performance, a total of eight other Polo GTI R5s contested the Rome event, which re-started the international rallying calendar following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Polo of Giandomenico Basso and Lorenzo Granai kicked off the rally with the fastest time on the qualifying stage, the 2019 event winners completing the 2.6-mile Fumone stage in 2m11.350s. The Italian pair went on to finish second, ahead of Solberg, just behind the Russian duo of Alexey Lukyanuk and Dmitry Eremeev in their Citroën C3 R5.

2020 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rally di Roma Capitale: Herczig

Other Polo GTI R5 finishers included the ninth-placed Volkswagen of Rudy Michelini and Michele Perna, the VW of Marco Signor and Francesco Pezzoli that crossed the line in 14th position, and the Fabio Angelucci and Massimo Cambria car which came home 24th. The BRR-prepared Polo of Norbert Herczig and Ramon Ferencz finished 53rd, while both the rallying VWs of Fabian Kreim/Frank Christian and Enrico Brazzoli/Maurizio Barone retired. 

[Images: Oliver Solberg, ERC, and Josef Petru (Herczig)]

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24 July 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Value-added Polo United boosts small Volkswagen’s appeal

A new value-packed version of the Polo has been launched by Volkswagen UK. The Polo United kicks off a range of equipment-rich Volkswagens, and is joined by similarly named editions of the T-Cross and T-Roc SUVs. The trio of new VWs are all distinguished by special exterior and interior items, all of which equate to up to £1,760 of ‘added value’. Each gets bespoke styling, badging and extra kit.

The Polo United is based on the Polo Match and follows a German-market Polo United model which first appeared in January 2020. The Polo Match is already equipped with alloy wheels, App-Connect smartphone mirroring, and leather-trimmed, three-spoke multifunction steering wheels and gear knobs. The Polo United adds bespoke ‘United’ badging and door sill protectors, ‘Dublin’ alloy wheels, voice control and a Winter Pack, consisting of heated front seats and a low washer fluid warning light.

Bespoke interior
The Polo United also includes an 8.0-inch ‘Discover Navigation’ touchscreen infotainment system, a Light and Sight Pack (automatic dimming interior mirror, automatic headlights, manual coming / automatic leaving home lighting function and a rain sensor). Inside, all three models feature bespoke grey and blue seat fabric, brushed stainless steel pedals, decorative interior inserts, as well as front and rear carpet mats.

Two petrol engines are available for the Polo United. The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder 78bhp ‘Evo’ and 93bhp TSI engines are both coupled to five-speed manual gearboxes, with the higher-powered unit benefitting from the option of a seven-speed DSG. The Polo United starts from £17,350, ‘on-the-road’.

Sarah Cox, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen UK, said: ‘The Polo, T-Cross and T-Roc are three integral models in the Volkswagen UK family, and find tens of thousands of happy customers per year. Not only do the United models build upon the champion offering of those models, but they represent considerable value savings, with their affordable pricing and generous equipment boosts. The United editions are united in offering greater value, bigger equipment lists, and an even more enjoyable ownership experience.’

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21 July 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Solberg and slew of Polo GTI R5s to take tarmac test at Rally di Roma Capitale

Polo GTI R5 pilot and young rallying superstar Oliver Solberg will make his full asphalt debut at the 2020 Rally di Roma Capitale event, over the weekend of 24-26 July. Winner of Rally Sweden Lockdown and son of ex-world champ Petter, Solberg Junior is a newcomer to tarmac stages, even though his Monster Energy-liveried Polo GTI R5 completed the 2020 Rallye Monte-Carlo, some stages of which are on asphalt.

But the eighteen-year-old has an ace up his sleeve: in 2018 the young driver sat alongside nine times world rally champion Sébastien Loeb to learn the ropes on tarmac. ‘To drive on tarmac is really different to the gravel or the snow,’ said Solberg, who will drive a PA Racing Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 on the opening round of this year’s FIA European Rally Championship. ‘OK, I did some dry stages in Monte-Carlo this year, but this is nothing to compare. For Rome, the set-up from the car will be stiffer, completely different.’

‘The time with Sébastien taught me so much. I was so lucky to spend this time with him and sitting in the car and watching what he was doing made things much clearer. He showed me lots about weight transfer, braking, all of these things which are crucial for getting the car into the corner and through the corner without sliding. On gravel, you slide the car more, but on tarmac, when you are sliding, you can hear you are killing the tyres and taking away the speed. This is what I have to remember when I am getting into the car in Rome.’

Competitive debut
Solberg and Italy have a good relationship. In 2017, shortly after his sixteenth birthday, he made his competitive debut in a World Rally Car at the Bettega Memorial Rallysprint in Bologna. Even though he had never driven a Ford Fiesta RS WRC before, the young Norwegian finished second overall, beating M-Sport Ford World Rally Team factory driver Teemu Suninen and only losing to Toyota Gazoo Racing star Kalle Rovanperä.

‘That was a fantastic event,’ he said. ‘I was driving with PA Racing then and it’s nice to be back with these guys again. They have lots of experience with the car and the rally, so we are really in a good place with them.’ PA Racing sports director Matteo Bottacin said he was delighted to see Oliver back in the team. ‘Oliver is one of the most promising young people in the world. I am sure that at the Rally in Rome, with the support of Pirelli and Volkswagen Motorsport, with Oliver we can get a good result. We are very happy to work with Oliver again,’ Bottacin said.

‘Smooth and progressive’
With the second half of the World Rally Championship season potentially featuring three asphalt events, Solberg wants to take as much tarmac experience as possible away from the Italian sojourn. ‘I want to learn as much as I can. My style of driving is quite smooth and progressive so I’m hoping I can find a way to drive on tarmac quickly. I will do some testing before the event and then work with PA Racing to make sure I understand everything from the car side. Co-driver Aaron Johnston and I will be watching a lot of onboards to understand what the stages are like. I have to say a big thank you to everybody from the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and Eurosport for helping make this event happen for me,’ Solberg said.

As well as Solberg’s Polo GTI R5, reigning FIA RGT champion Enrico Brazzoli will also be lining up at the start in Rome, making his 2020 ERC debut. Also in a PA Racing-prepared Volkswagen, Brazolli and co-driver Maurizio Barone’s car will be backed by Allianz. ‘It’s great to go back to racing, we can’t wait, and it’s nice to do it on Italian roads with the Polo GTI R5 that Alessandro Perico’s PA Racing has made available to us,’ said Brazzoli.

In total, nine Polo GTI R5s will be in action on the 2020 Rally di Roma Capitale, including the car of three-time German rally champions Fabian Kreim and Frank Christian, and the MOL Racing Team machine of Norbert Herczig and Ramón Ferencz. The Italian event starts with a qualifying stage on Friday, 24 July. The competitors will take part in a parade through Rome before all the crews embark on 18 stages (128 competitive miles) over the next two days.

[Images: Oliver Solberg, fiaerc.com, and Volkswagen Motorsport]

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20 July 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Das WeltAuto used car scheme now Volkswagen Approved Used

Delayed by the COVID-9 pandemic, Volkswagen’s Das WeltAuto used car programme has been officially renamed Volkswagen Approved Used. Now rolling out across the retailer network, Volkswagen states that the same reliability and quality values of the old scheme remain in place.

Another step in the manufacturer’s global rebranding programme, the cleaner logo reflects VW’s pared-back approach to its brand, aimed at simpler communications, particularly for digital platforms. The renaming follows the launch of a simpler Volkswagen roundel last September and the arrival of a new ‘R’ logo to denote high performance models.

142-point check
The one element of the official used Volkswagen scheme which hasn’t changed is the package offered. Skilled VW-trained technicians still carry out a thorough 142-point check and test drive of any Volkswagen Approved Used vehicles. Any faults are fixed with genuine Volkswagen parts, therefore qualifying for Approved Used status. Each Approved Used VW also comes with a 12-month, unlimited-mileage warranty, 12 months of roadside assistance, 12-month MOT cover and a 30-day/1,000 mile ‘no quibble’ exchange policy.

Barny Francis, National Used Car Manager at Volkswagen UK, said: ‘The simple clarity of the new Volkswagen logo and branding now extends to Volkswagen Approved Used – a simpler title that conveys the same assurance of quality, dependability and customer service. Volkswagen Approved Used is exactly what it says on the tin, and that reassurance is everything our used customers could want.’

Since its launch in 2011, Das WeltAuto won multiple awards for its exemplary used car service, including the 2014 ‘Used Car Programme of the Year’ from CarDealer magazine.

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15 July 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Černý and Černohorský take fifth place at Rally Bohemia 2020

It was a busy weekend for the Polo GTI R5 at the 47th Rally Bohemia which took place between 10-12 July. Three crews piloted 270bhp Volkswagen Polo GTI R5s at the Czech Republic event, the four-wheel drive rally cars driven by Jan Černý/Petr Černohorský, Tomasz Kasperczyk/Damian Syty and Vojtěch Štajf/František Rajnoha. Černý and Černohorský finished fifth against a host of strong and WRC-experienced competitors. Štajf and Rajnoha’s Polo came home ninth, and Kasperczyk and Syty’s VW crossed the line eleventh.

In Italy, Corrado (a very apt Volkswagen name reference!) Pinzano and Marco Zegna finished second overall at the Rally Lana 2020 in their strikingly liveried Polo GTI R5. Marco Gianesini and Marco Bergonzi’s Polo GTI R5 was sixth, and the VW of Marasso Massimo and Pieri Luca was 12 places behind them. Sadly, Ivan and Marina Carmellino’s GTI R5 crashed out on the Curino 1 stage.

Ferenc Kiss and his son Ferenc Kiss Jr were busy with back-to-back events in their rallying Polo. Third at the Bakonya Rallye in Hungary on 5 July, the pair completed the AMTK Rally Velenje 2020 in Slovenia the following weekend in fifth place. Further down the field, Peljhan Darko and Čar Matej’s fifth-generation Volkswagen Polo RN4 crossed the line eighteenth.

Czech duo Jaroslav Melichárek and Martin Tureček performed well at the MRC Kopřivnice 2020 event held on 4-5 July. The pair won five out of six special stages in their Polo GTI R5. A 10-second time penalty meant they missed the overall win by 0.8 seconds, finishing second. Finally, in June, Kacper Wróblewski and Jakub Wróbel won the Rally Ireco Motorsport in Poland ahead of their compatriots Tomasz Kasperczyk/Damian Syty, while Vojtěch Štajf/František Rajnoha finished the Test-Rally Sosnová 2020 in second place.

[Images: Volkswagen Motorsport]

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