‘There is only one target: winning.’ That was the message which came from the new PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team yesterday as the new 2017 Volkswagen Polo rallycross competition car was unveiled in Stockholm. Its new drivers, ex-World Rally and Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg (also the PSRX team owner), and Johan Kristoffersson, who came second in the 2016 FIA World Rallycross season, pulled the covers off the new machine.
This year, the familiar rallycross Polo silhouette has both a new engine, as well as a new name – the ‘GTI’ badge has been attached to the project, to encourage correlation with the production car. That’s something the Polo R World Rally Championship (WRC) car never achieved, due to the lack of a true halo road-going powerful performance model.
‘Realisation of a dream’
The Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar is, according to its new team, ‘the realisation of a dream for PSRX and a great new beginning for Volkswagen Sweden’, the latter of which gave its backing to Marklund Motorsport last year, running a pair of Polo RX Supercars for Kristoffersson and Anton Marklund. Now however, the official involvement of Volkswagen Motorsport should up the rallycross Polo’s game considerably.
The 2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar has 570bhp and will accelerate from 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds. With a chassis developed from the 2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, the engine is a development of the unit from the Beetle Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) car, which has contested events in the US for the past three years.
The latest version of Volkswagen’s rallycross machine uses similar damper and transmission technology to the Polo R WRC, too, but everything in the car’s dynamic and technical make-up has been adjusted to suit the demanding FIA World Rallycross (WRX) technical regulations, which sees cars take on mixed-surface short circuit racing venues.
Another carryover to the new car is that the development was carried out by Volkswagen Motorsport in Hanover, with the German engineers under the guidance from Technical Director FX Demaison, who was a guiding hand in Volkswagen’s World Rally Championship dominance from 2013 to 2016. Demaison knows Solberg well: he worked with the Norwegian at Subaru and also with Solberg’s private WRC team.
In terms of appearance, the new rallycross challenger looks to have more in common to its rallying relation, too. The wheel arches bear more than a passing resemblance to the now defunct Polo R WRC, while the new 2017 livery colours take the electric blue/pale blue stripes of the former Volkswagen Motorsport rallying machine and mixes them with the matt black of Monster Energy.
All in all, it’s an exciting combination, then. And Kristoffersson agrees: ‘I think that it is so exciting. Getting started with Petter, PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden is perfect for me. What we must do now is to take advantage of this perfect partnership, do a perfect lap and a perfect finish!’ said the 28 year-old.
Solberg meanwhile is thrilled to have official involvement from both Volkswagen Sweden and Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘This is a dream for me. We have worked for this for so long and to have finally reached the finish. I’m so happy to be working with Volkswagen Sweden and Volkswagen Motorsport this year, and now we have a real opportunity to realise a dream.’
‘A beautiful monster’
The Polo GTI Supercar may have only been built in just three months, but Solberg is confident of its chances. ‘We have tested the Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar for some time now and every time I step out of it, I do so with a smile on my face. And then I just want to step in and run some more. It is a real monster, but it’s a beautiful monster created by the brilliant people at Volkswagen Motorsport.’
The Norwegian continued: ‘I want to say a very, very big thank you to all the sponsors who made this year possible. All the efforts made during the pre-season will be awarded in 2017, I do not doubt for a moment. Johan and I will work as a team. I’ve known John a long time now, and we fully trust each other. We will work as a team and this year we compete on a totally equal terms.’
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets said: ‘We are looking forward to seeing the Polo GTI Supercar in its natural environment. We have worked very hard with PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden to get the Polo GTI Supercar completed in a relatively short time. Now that the car is ready and tested, we are all looking forward to the first race in Barcelona. We all want to see how Petter, Johan and our Polo fare against a very strong field in a very exciting championship.’
We look forward to watching the invigorated rallycross Polo in action, too. A taster of what we can expect is shown in the car unveiling video below. Better-looking, more powerful and perhaps more thoroughly developed than ever before, the 2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar appears set to mount an impressive challenge when the first round of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship – the World RX of Barcelona – gets underway on 31 March to 2 April at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
2017 VOLKSWAGEN POLO GTI WRX SUPERCAR
Type: turbocharged and inter-cooled in line four cylinder, mounted transversely
Power output: 570bhp
Torque: 650Nm/479lb ft
Bore/stroke: 86 x 86mm
Air restrictor: 45mm (FIA regulation)
Engine control unit: Bosch
Gearbox: sequential six speed racing transmission
Final drive: permanent four-wheel drive with fixed drive between front and rear axles, front and rear multi-plate limited slip differentials
Clutch: hydraulically-actuated triple disc carbon
Front/rear: MacPherson struts, lower control arms, ZF dampers
Suspension travel: 240mm
Steering: servo-assisted rack and pinion
Braking system: vented 325mm front and rear brake discs, four-piston aluminium brake calipers
Wheels: 8.5 x 17-inch
Tyres: 225 x 640 R17 Cooper
Build: FIA-controlled reinforced steel body
DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT
Track width: 1,600mm
Minimum weight: 1,300kg
Acceleration: 0-100kph/0-60mph in approx 1.9 seconds
Top speed: up to 200kph/124mph