Archive | Motorsport

27 May 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Oliver Solberg wins Rally Liepāja

Seventeen-year-old Oliver Solberg made motorsport history over the weekend of 24-26 May, as he and co-driver Aaron Johnston crossed the line first at the 2019 Rally Liepāja in his Bullfrog and Circle K-backed Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. The son of World Rally and World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg became the youngest ever winner in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC).

The third round of the 2019 ERC season, Solberg and Johnston completed the 128-mile event 22.7 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals, reigning ERC victors Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov of Russia. The Latvian rally was Solberg’s first event with the Polo GTI R5 on gravel and the young Norwegian won a supremely impressive ten stages from a possible 13. ‘This is the best day of my life, absolutely unbelievable,’ Solberg exclaimed.

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5: Rally Liepaja, Solberg/Johnston

Biggest win of his life
By the end of day one, Solberg and Northern Irish Johnston had built a 9.7-second advantage over their nearest rivals. Only sliding wide in a right-hand junction mid-way through the third stage cost the youngster the chance to dominate every stage. Solberg doubled his lead on day two, and not even rutted roads and the onset of rain derailed him. He sealed the biggest win of his life with the fastest time on the 13th and final stage.

It was the Polo GTI R5’s first ERC win, too, the 270bhp Volkswagen Motorsport customer sports rally machine the very same car Petter Solberg debuted last year. ‘Our car has the chassis number one and last October my father drove it at the Rally Spain for the first time,’ said Solberg. ‘For me it’s really special that he lets me drive it now.’

He continued: ‘This is the biggest moment of my life, the biggest day of my life. Of course, I wanted to be at the front, but this is the European championship and it’s a level up from where I am competing. In the shakedown, I wanted to make some changes to the car and the notes weren’t quite perfect. I pushed in the Qualifying Stage and we came out fastest.

‘So proud’
‘I have to say a big thank you to my team – they made the car so comfortable for me. I had no problems and I was taking the confidence that I could push and push harder. I want to say a big thank you to everybody at the European Rally Championship, too, as I have been made to feel so welcome. And to become the youngest ever winner of an ERC round is unbelievable. I’m so proud to do this. What a day for me and Aaron. Fantastic!’ reported a delight Solberg.

Triple champion Petter Solberg was proud of his son had achieved. ‘I know we keep saying this, but what Oliver’s doing is unbelievable. We didn’t know what to expect from the ERC, but he’s come and won the rally. From the fastest time at the qualifying stage and all the way through the event, he’s controlled everything. He’s also been the calmest guy out of all of us!’

Rally Liepāja also staged the third and fourth rounds of the Latvian Rally Championship. Solberg and Johnston are also competitors in the national series, and were beaten in the third round by Estonians Georg Gross and Raigo Mõlder in their more powerful Ford Fiesta WRC. The fourth round saw the Norwegian-British pair grab victory by 32.5 seconds, which enabled them to build on their lead in the overall championship. Solberg and Johnston also took victory at the previous two Latvian Rally Championship events, the 2019 Rally Alūksne and the 2019 Rally Sarma.

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5: Rally Liepaja, Herczig/Ferencz

Fourteenth and seventeenth
Another pair of Polo GTI R5s competed in the 2019 Rally Liepāja. The Baumschlager Rallye & Racing (BRR) Polo of Norbert Herczig and Ramon Ferencz started the Latvian event first and acted as a ‘sweeper’ on the stages, only achieving 14th in the final results. Another BRR Polo driven by Albert von Thurn and Taxis and Bernhard Ettel enjoyed a solid run and finished 17th.

[Images: Herczig car – Alexandre Guillaumot]

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26 April 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Gilbert takes third place at Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône: Gilbert/Guieu

French rally driver Quentin Gilbert has taken his HK Racing Polo GTI R5 to third place at the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône, the second round of the 2019 French Rally Championship. Gilbert and co-driver Christopher Guieu just missed out on a runner-up podium position by just 0.8 seconds, beaten by Citroën C3 R5 driver Yohan Rossel.

But, Gilbert was still pleased his and Guieu’s result after the 130-mile event. ‘Of course, we’re disappointed to have missed out on second place by such a small margin, but all in all this is another good result. We had good speed, even though we could not keep up with the pace at the front.’

The winner of the 2019 Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône was reigning French rally champion Yoann Bonato in another Citroën C3 R5. Thanks to this result and their second place at the Rallye Touquet Pas-de-Calais opening round, Gilbert and Guieu are second in the overall 2019 championship standings. Find out more at www.ffsa.org.

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15 April 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Princen and Eelbode win 2019 TAC Rally

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI: TAC Rally, Princen/Eelbode

The Polo GTI R5’s success continues away from the headline WRC 2 category of the World Rally Championship. Kris Princen and Bram Eelbode have won the 2019 TAC Rally in a version of the new Volkswagen Motorsport customer sports rally car. The BMA Autosport pair were victorious in six of the 14 special stages, which took place at Tielt in West Flanders.

Princen and Eelbode were initially embroiled in a thrilling battle with countrymen Cédric Cherain and Xavier Portier from the THX team, who were also in a Polo GTI R5, but Cherain and Porter retired after a crash on the third stage. The TAC win is the second for Princen and Eelbode, who also stood on the top step of the podium at February’s Rally van Haspengouw. A third Polo GTI R5 driven by Patrick Snijders and Thiery Davy finished sixth at the TAC Rally, which was round three of the 2019 Belgian Rally Championship.

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5: TAC Rally, Snijders/Davy

Belgian driver Princen was delighted with his, Eelbode’s and the rallying Polo’s performance: ‘A great result. The pace was high the entire time and Cédric Cherain’s crash did not make it any easier at all, as we were constantly put under pressure by the chasing pack. It is very pleasing to have had no technical issues at all. Our Polo GTI R5 was fantastic. We have great faith in the car, even though we are still getting to know it.’

Crugnola and Ometto finish fifth at Rally Sanremo
Italian drivers Andrea Crugnola and Elia Pietro Ometto took their Gass Racing Polo GTI R5 to fifth place at the 2019 Rally Sanremo and won one special stage overall. The long-running event in the Italian Rally Championship featured 95 miles against the clock, spread over ten special stages. The Polo GTI R5 of Antonio Rusce and Sauro Farnocchia from X Race Sport finished ninth.

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5: Rally Sanremo, Crugnola/Ometto

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11 April 2019 ~ 0 Comments

A near perfect 2019 Falken Polo Cup weekend for Kruger at Zwartkops

2019 Falken Polo Cup: Jeffrey Kruger

Following the action-packed first round at Dezzi Raceway, the South African 2019 Falken Polo Cup sped into Pretoria and onto the Zwartkops Raceway for the second meeting on 5-6 April and gave defending champion Jeffrey Kruger two race wins out of a possible three victories. But as with round one, it was a testing time for Volkswagen Motorsport drivers Jonathan Mogotsi and Raais Asmal.

Surged to the front
Kruger’s near perfect weekend started at the beginning of the first race, when after qualifying fourth fastest, his Universal Healthcare/Comp Care Sport-liveried Polo GTI surged to the front of the 25-strong pack. Pole-setter Delon Thompson was swallowed by the field, and further down the ranks, Stiaan Kriel’s and Simon Need’s Polos came together with Kriel’s car rolling several times.

Fortunately, there were no injuries thanks to the Polo’s standard inherent strength and high safety levels, and when the chequered flag was waved, Kruger came home first, four seconds ahead of Clinton Bezuidenhout. Bradley Liebenberg rounded out the podium, with Jason and Keegan fourth and fifth respectively. Former Polo Cup champion Chris Shorter was sixth.

Race two saw Kruger repeat his pack-leading charge from race one, followed by Jason Campos. The defending champion was unstoppable, though, and Kruger took his second win of the day, two seconds ahead of Campos with Bezuidenhout close behind. Chris Shorter narrowly missed a podium position, with Jonathan Mogotsi and Bradley Liebenberg taking the points for fifth and sixth respectively.

A fierce attack
The question was, would Kruger make it three out of three? With every intention of scoring a hat-trick, Kruger started the race from second place, thanks to the starting order determined by the second fastest lap time set during the early morning qualifying session. Liebenberg led the pack this time, and the GTC driver successfully fended off a fierce attack from Kruger. When it came to the numbers, just three tenths of a second separated the two with Kruger just missing out on a third successive victory.

When the three race times were added up to determine the overall result, it was little surprise that Kruger emerged as the big winner. The current Polo Cup champion was pleased. ‘It was nearly perfect, but we scored some good points today so I’m really happy. The car is one piece and I am now looking forward to Cape Town,’ Kruger said. Bezuidenhout was awarded second overall just ahead of Jason Campos and Bradley Liebenberg, with Keegan Campos taking fifth ahead of Chris Shorter.

Volkswagen Motorsport’s Jonathan Mogotsi and Raais Asmal endured slightly less fortunate times at Zwartkops. Mogotsi enjoyed a good qualifying session, but a technical infringement forced both him and Asmal to the rear of the grid. This put the pair on the back foot for the entire weekend while a punctured tyre in race two didn’t help Asmal’s cause.

‘A successful series’
The Zwartkops race weekend also saw fuel giant Total announce its involvement with the series. ‘Total has joined the Falken Polo Cup as the official fuel supplier through its Excellium brand for the rest of the season,’ said Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa. ‘It is great news and it will help to ensure that the Falken Polo Cup remains such a successful series in the years to come. We would like to welcome Total to our family,’ he enthused.

Round three of the 2019 Falken Polo Cup will take place on the weekend of 10-11 May at Cape Town’s fast and furious Killarney circuit.

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09 April 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Rusce fourth place at Rally Appennino Reggiano

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, 40th Rally Appennino Reggiano: Rusce/Farnocchia

Italian Polo GTI R5 pilots Antonio Rusce and Sauro Farnocchia finished fourth at the 40th Rally Appennino Reggiano last weekend, missing the bottom step of the podium by just 3.1 seconds. The first round of the 2019 International Rally Cup, the Italian event featured 90 miles of stages.

Rusce and co-driver Farnocchia won one of the ten special stages in the R5 class at the Emilia-Romagna asphalt rally. The duo also finished in the top three eight times. The Rally Piancavallo on 11-12 May is the next round in the International Rally Cup series. Read more at www.ircup.it.

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