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04 April 2020 ~ 2 Comments

‘Modern classic’ 1993 Polo Coupé CL fetches £3,150 for StarterMotor charity

Now that the earliest second-generation Polos are almost 39 years old, it could justifiably be called a ‘modern classic’. Even the earliest facelifted ‘2F’ models are now 30 years old (yikes!) so they, too, can be included in the new heritage wave of latter-day machines. And ‘modern classic’ is one description which could be applied to the 1993 Polo Coupé which has fetched over £3,000 at auction. Sale proceeds went to classic car charity StarterMotor.

The 27-year-old Polo Coupé had covered just 37,000 miles from new, and was a two-owner car when it was bought by insurer Hagerty UK on behalf of StarterMotor. A supporter of the charity, Hagerty UK agreed to fund the purchase of the Polo as a charitable donation, as it aligns with its desire to welcome a new generation to the world of classic cars, and celebrates the rising popularity of modern classics. Hagerty also insured the Polo while it was in the care of the Heritage Skills Academy (HSA) which prepared it for auction. The HSA also benefits from StarterMotor charity funding.

Lightly modified
The lightly-modified Polo CL arrived at HSA, based at the huge Bicester Heritage complex in Oxfordshire, in January 2020. Booked into the Bonhams MPH auction on 21 March, the Polo was then returned to as near-standard-specification by the HSA apprentices. The suspension was returned to standard specification, an aftermarket steering wheel was replaced and second-generation Volkswagen Golf-style steel wheels were replaced with near-original-spec 13-inch rims (they appear to be pre-facelift model ‘flat’ items), wrapped in Goodyear tyres. As well as the new components, all the non-standard parts were included in the sale.

The Polo also underwent a comprehensive service at HSA, and was also the recipient of a new cambelt, head gasket, tappets, top-end rebuild, and a water pump. Auto Waxworks then carried out a full detail. Overall, the rejuvenated Polo enjoyed 80 hours of workshop pampering. Marcus Atkinson, Hagerty UK managing director said: ‘Encouraging young people into the world of classic cars is of huge importance to Hagerty, and we have supported StarterMotor and the Heritage Skills Association from the start.’

Sealed bid
StarterMotor is a charity aimed at inspiring young people to learn about classic cars. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Bonhams MPH auction was held behind closed doors. The Polo raised £3,150 for StarterMotor via a sealed bid, which included sellers’ commissions that Bonhams returned to the charity. The final sealed bid’s value was £2,800. ‘To supply a car for this project was a pleasure, and to see it raise so much money at auction, even during these difficult times, shows there is always a buyer for a well-prepared classic car,’ said Atkinson.

As well as a provider of leading insurance products, Hagerty International is regarded as one of the world leaders in the market analysis and the valuation of classic cars. It publishes regular reports taking data from auctions, car sales, collectors, and owners from around the world to give an accurate overview of the classic car market. It also offers an extensive event programme, including the highly-regarded and popular Festival of the Unexceptional which champions more ‘everyday’ cars and it is also one of the world’s largest classic car content providers with digital, film, print and social media channels.

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20 March 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Kristoffersson to contest 2020 World Rallycross Championship in Polo GTI RX

Double world rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson will return to the series in 2020, in a Polo GTI RX. The Swede won consecutive titles in 2017 and 2018 with a Polo GTI RX as part of Petter Solberg’s PSRX Volkswagen Team Sweden squad, and returns with his sights set on a third championship victory.

Kristoffersson campaigned selected rallying events in the Volkswagen Motorsport Polo GTI R5 during 2019, and also enjoyed competing in the World Touring Car Championship (WCTR). ‘It has been a hectic period… There have been many alternatives, but right now I feel really satisfied. Rallycross is very close to my heart. All our energy and focus is now on World RX,’ he said. In 2020, his 600bhp Polo GTI RX will wear Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS livery.

He may have been away from the sport, but that doesn’t mean Kristoffersson hasn’t been following the action. ‘I have caught up with some of the races I missed and my conclusion is that our opponents took steps forward during 2019. I have learnt from both rally and racing. That mix is what makes rallycross,’ he said. ‘I’m really looking forward to this season and it is a bit special to do it with Kristoffersson Motorsport. When we entered rallycross in 2014, we set a three-year plan to become world champions.’

‘A very competent squad’
Head of the squad Tommy Kristoffersson knows the challenges the team face in 2020: ‘To run a family team in the world championship is really above our heads, but thanks to great support from our main partners, the Volkswagen dealers in Sweden and BAUHAUS, we felt it was worth giving it a go,’ he said. ‘We hope to score good results early on, giving us a chance for extra support for the later part of the season. Of course, this puts pressure on our team, but I feel assured we have a very competent squad.’

‘Rallycross is surrounded by emotions and the organisers have found a great concept for the events. With a double world champion behind the wheel, the pressure is on. Of course we will be there aiming to win, but anyone involved in this business knows it’s not that easy. After all, we’re a private team and the resources are limited, not even close to 2017 and 2018. Also, the car will be based in Arvika, not in Hannover, even though we will be buying services from Volkswagen Motorsport,’ Kristoffersson senior said.

Johan Kristoffersson’s super-Polo won’t be the only small Volkswagen on the 2020 RX tracks. Norwegian Sondre Evjen will also drive a Kristoffersson Motorsport-built Polo in the European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX) as he did in 2019, and compatriot Thomas Bryntesson has confirmed that he will also drive a Polo Supercar in Euro RX, run by his own team TBRX. Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand will also pilot a Hedstroms Motorsport-run Polo. The Czech Republic’s Ales Fucik, is also behind the wheel of a Polo, for the KRTZ Motorsport ACCR team. Philip Gehrman from Sweden is also in a Polo, campaigned by Bridgestone and First Stop Motorsport.

First rounds postponed
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the globe, the first two rounds of the 2020 series, the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona (18-19 April) and the World RX of Portugal (2-4 May), have been postponed. Check the FIA World Rallycross website for updated information regarding rescheduled dates.

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11 March 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo rises two places in UK’s most popular new cars chart

The Volkswagen Polo was the seventh most popular car in the UK during February 2020, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). With 1,451 Polos finding new homes, the small Volkswagen is eighth in the year-to-date top ten rundown – a total of 3,787 have been registered since the start of 2020.

The Volkswagen Golf topped the chart with 3,457 registrations, just as the eighth-generation model starts to appear in UK retailers, with the Ford Fiesta in second place. Longstanding chart stalwarts Ford Focus, Vauxhall Corsa and Mercedes-Benz A-Class rounded out the top five.

Overall, UK registrations fell 2.9 per cent in February to 79,594 units, as demand from private buyers declined again. It was a good month for battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars, though, with 4,566 joining the UK roads but at just 5.8 per cent, their market share remains low. The UK’s top ten most popular new cars during February 2020 and the year-to-date (sales figure and position in brackets) were as follows:

1 Volkswagen Golf: 3,457 (7,484, 3rd)

2 Ford Fiesta: 3,123 (9,210, 1st)
3 Ford Focus: 2,784 (8,051, 2nd)
4 Vauxhall Corsa: 1,871 (6,244, 4th)
5 Mercedes-Benz A-Class: 1,648 (4,862, 6th)
6 Vauxhall Grandland X: 1,540 (3,801, 7th)
7 Volkswagen Polo: 1,451 (3,787, 8th)
8 Mini: 1,339
9 Nissan Qashqai: 1,293 (5,901, 5th)

10 BMW 5 Series: 1,286

(The 2020 year-to-date top ten most popular cars absent from February 2020’s UK registration figures were the ninth-placed BMW 3 Series and the tenth-placed Kia Sportage with 3,648 and 3,386 units recorded respectively.)

Polo Vivo is registration champion
Once again, the Polo Vivo topped the new car registrations charts in South Africa, with 2,417 cars rolling out of retailers. The latest National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) figures state that the sixth-generation Polo was again in second place with 2,120 units sold, with an additional 10,409 exported from Volkswagen South Africa’s Uitenhage plant. The Polo-based T-Cross registered a total of 463 cars, while 540 traditionally styled Polo Sedans left the forecourts.

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06 March 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Oettinger Polo Cup gears up for the 2020 motorsport season

South Africa’s most successful racing series enters its 24th consecutive season in 2020, and gains a new name for a new decade. Previously known as the Engen Volkswagen Cup and the Volkswagen Polo Cup South Africa among other names, the series has a new title sponsor for 2020 and will be known as the Oettinger Polo Cup.

Replacing Falken as the headline sponsor, the Oettinger brand is officially returning to South Africa thanks to the efforts of Universal Healthcare’s team owner and driver Dr Johan Pretorius who acquired the South African rights to the revered tuning brand late in 2019. Falken, Ferodo and Total will remain sponsors supporting the eight-event series which kicks off at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria.

Showcase for young driving talent
A total of 25, technically identical 197bhp Polo GTIs will line-up on the starting grid at the first round on 14 March, all piloted by the country’s best up and coming young drivers. A showcase for young driving talent for the past 23 years, the 2020 series continues that long commitment. ‘The Oettinger Polo Cup is extremely competitive where fractions of a second could mean the difference between winning and losing,’ said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa.

‘In such an environment, it is crucial that the elements that make up a race car work seamlessly together. With that as a backdrop, we are delighted that quality brands such as Oettinger, Falken and Total choose to partner with Volkswagen to showcase their products and brands. It will also ensure that each round of the Oettinger Polo Cup remains a highlight on the racing calendar,’ he continued.

‘Over the years, the Oettinger Polo Cup has been a successful proving ground for South Africa’s best drivers to develop their talents and racecraft and hone their skills,’ said Rowe. ‘When these drivers move on, space opens up to accommodate a new wave of youngsters who will become the next generation of champions. This is why Volkswagen as a company and as a responsible investor in the markets in which we operate is extremely proud of what the Polo Cup has achieved in terms of development over the years, and we are excited that the new-look Oettinger Polo Cup will continue to do so going forward,’ he added.

‘Synonymous with Volkswagen’
‘Oettinger has been famous for tuning Volkswagens for more than 70 years. The brand is synonymous with Volkswagen and it’s a pleasure for us to bring it back to South Africa,’ said Dr Pretorius. ‘For us, it was the perfect fit to get involved with the country’s most competitive racing series which happens to consist of 25 Volkswagen Polo GTIs and we hope that by us and Volkswagen joining forces, the Oettinger Polo Cup will continue to go from strength to strength,’ he added.

Falken Tyres, the 2019 title sponsor will continue to support the series as the official tyre partner and all the competing Polos will be shod with the company’s slick racing rubber. ‘We are excited to continue our mutually beneficial relationship with the Oettinger Polo Cup,’ said Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber SA (Sumitomo Dunlop), the company responsible for the Falken Tyres brand in South Africa. ‘The series provides us with the perfect platform to showcase these quality products and we expect to see more of the same this season.’

All the race-ready Polo GTIs will not only sport identical rubber, but will also be powered by the same fuel courtesy of Total and its Excellium brand. ‘Motorsport is about creating a winning image, but it also provides an opportunity for real-world testing. To see so many performance Volkswagen Polos performing at their peak is exactly what we want to see at Total and we’ll continue to follow the series with great interest in 2020,’ said Sanjeev Sheosanker, retail fuels sales manager at Total SA. Stopping power will once again be provided by brake component manufacturer Ferodo who continue its long-lasting relationship with the series.

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05 March 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Motorsport fine tunes Polo GTI R5 with a package of updates

Despite its recent announcement to focus its motorsport strategy on electric mobility, Volkswagen Motorsport has revealed plans to technically fine tune the Polo GTI R5 rally car over the course of the next 12 months. The 268bhp, four-wheel drive special stage star has over 125 podium finishes to its name up to the end of 2019.

Following on from the multi-championship-winning Polo R WRC, the latest rallying Polo is sold by Volkswagen Motorsport as part of its customer sport programme, and has been overwhelmingly successful around the world. Findings from these global events have fed back into the updating of the car, and the Polo GTI R5 will be the recipient of upgraded suspension components in the spring 2020, with other modified parts to follow over the course of the year.

Package of improvements
Several cars have already been delivered to teams with new chassis components, but a larger package of improvements will be added over the next 12 months. These detail changes will be homologated for use in competitions including the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), and other national championships. As well as the improved mechanical upgrades, production of the rallying Polo is also being stepped up to meet the huge demand – 20 per cent more Polo GTI R5 than initially planned will now be built in 2020. Production will also continue beyond 2020.

‘The success story of the Polo GTI R5 is overwhelming. In customer hands, it has claimed more than 75 victories and 125 podium finishes up to the end of 2019,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets. ‘However, it is not only the success of our customers that is important to us, but also their experience in a wide range of conditions – whether on asphalt, gravel, or ice and snow. Our engineers use this feedback to make detailed improvements to the Polo GTI R5. Our goal is to ensure that the Polo GTI R5 remains successful.’

‘Comprehensive feedback’
‘If you are not moving forward, you are always moving backward in the world of motorsport,’ said François-Xavier Demaison, technical director at Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘As such, it is hugely important to be constantly working on ideas for improved performance and durability. Thanks to the comprehensive feedback we receive from our customers, we have been working on updates for the Polo GTI R5 since 2019 and the first detailed improvements are already being delivered to customers.’

To facilitate the updates, Volkswagen Motorsport states that ‘countless amounts of feedback’ from teams and drivers currently running the Polo GTI R5 in series from locations as far and wide as the Arctic Circle to Africa, and North and South America to Europe, have been collected and analysed. A professional feedback system now makes the process simpler and more direct.

Despite the statement that ‘a clear emphasis on fully electric racing cars will be backed up by the farewell to factory-backed commitments using internal combustion engines’ which Volkswagen Motorsport released in November 2019, the Polo GTI R5 remains, for now at least, an integral part of Volkswagen Motorsport’s customer sport offering. In the same statement, the Hanover outfit said it will still be responsible for continued customer support, spare parts supply and the competitiveness of the rallying Polo, it was just factory-backed competition entries with the GTI R5 that will no longer go ahead.

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