Archive | Polo GTI R5

30 October 2018 ~ 0 Comments

World class: ‘strong debut’ for Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 at Rally Spain

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rally Spain: Camilli/Veillas

Volkswagen Motorsport described the first – and only – works outing for its new Polo GTI R5 rally car as a ‘strong debut’. Petter Solberg took a third place podium finish at the 2018 Rally Spain, while Eric Camilli led the WRC 2 category for much of the event before a defect in the gearshift linkage dashed hopes of a Volkswagen victory.

The new 270bhp four-wheel drive customer sports machine made a good impression on the Spanish gravel and tarmac event and proved it was competitive to other more long-standing rivals. That’s good news for the eight customers who have so far placed orders for the €190,000 (tarmac-spec price) WRC 2 weapon. The first cars will be delivered to their international teams over the coming weeks.

Best time
The Polo GTI R5 was impressive from the off in Spain, and scored a best time on the first special stage, a feat shared by its top-flight Polo R WRC predecessor on its debut in 2013. Camilli and co-driver Benjamin Veillas initially took the WRC 2 class lead, but on the second day, when the action switched to tarmac, the pair opted for a hard tyre choice and forfeited their lead, only to be chasing for it again later in the day.

With just three tenths of a second between the Frenchmen and the eventual winners Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen, a defect in the shift linkage cost Camilli and Veillas their hopes of victory. However, on their return under Rally 2 regulations on day three, the Polo pair secured more best times, including that of the special stage on the revered ‘Riudecanyes’ section.

‘Very proud’
Camilli was upbeat, despite his day two retirement: ‘There’s one thing I’d like to say first, because it’s very important to me: I enjoyed every single minute in the Polo GTI R5 this weekend, it’s so much fun driving the car. We wanted to show that the Polo is fast in all conditions – I think that we demonstrated that with best times on gravel and tarmac. With a little bit more luck Benjamin and I could have celebrated a better result, possibly even the class win. I am very proud that I was privileged to be part of this special debut.’

Elsewhere, in car number 49, Solberg and co-driver Veronica Engan caused a stir with the best time on the most challenging and longest gravel stage of the rally on their return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) after six years away, and finished the event in a strong third position.

Ex-WRC champion Solberg was delighted: ‘What a fantastic result after six years away! It was not an easy task with just two days of testing and totally new pace notes. Which is why I am very proud of what Veronica and I achieved. A podium result on the debut – things couldn’t have gone much better.

‘We avoided all risks, and always looked for a clean line. With a little bit more of an attack, no doubt we could have come away with more. But the most important thing is that I had an incredible amount of fun in the car, and when you finish on the podium with champagne, you start to mull things over. A quick word about Sébastien Loeb: it was simply fantastic what he did here. Congratulations on his exceptional win!’ he commented.

‘Strong debut’
Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director was happy, too. ‘We are really pleased with the Polo GTI R5’s debut and I think that we have completed our mission. Petter and Eric delivered top performances in very difficult conditions and helped the Polo GTI R5 make a strong debut, with both drivers getting best times.’

‘Leading the first rally ahead of strong competition and winning special stages on different surfaces is a clear sign that the new Polo GTI R5 is extremely competitive. At the same time, we know that the car has even more potential,’ Smeets disclosed.

‘The pace of the new Polo GTI R5 was good from the start,’ said Gerard-Jan de Jongh, Technical Project Lead for the Polo GTI R5. ‘Eric Camilli and Petter Solberg demonstrated that the car is competitive and fast in all conditions and with both drivers. However, a competition like the Rally Spain is always different from testing – which is why a minor defect had a major impact. But the problem with the shift linkage is an easy one to solve and eliminate before the car is delivered to customers,’ de Jongh assured.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rally Spain: Camilli/Veillas

Prospective Polo GTI R5 customers had the chance to view the car in the Rally Spain service park – especially during the transformation from gravel to tarmac spec which involved the switching of 1,025 parts in just 75 minutes – and there looks to be a number added to the 15 cars already sold. Due to be delivered by the end of the year, the first Polo GTI R5s are heading to teams in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Paraguay and Sweden. The cars are being made at Volkswagen Motorsport’s Hannover base and the Ikarusallee crew has a goal to produce 30 to 40 Polo GTI R5s in 2019.

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22 October 2018 ~ 0 Comments

Polos on parade at GTI Coming Home 2018 Wolfsburg meet

Volkswagen Polo R WRCs at GTI Coming Home 2018 event (Image: Neil Birkitt, Volkswagen Driver magazine)

Building on the success from last year’s inaugural event, Volkswagen hosted its second ‘GTI Coming Home’ meeting at its Wolfsburg headquarters at the end of August. With cars littered around the nearby Volkswagen Arena and Autostadt visitor attraction, GTI fans from far and wide converged on Wolfsburg to celebrate all things sports VW.

Neil Birkitt from Volkswagen Driver magazine was one of the few UK journalists at the event, and he sent us a selection of images detailing the Polos in attendance. Unsurprisingly, not only was the new Polo GTI a star attraction, with road-going and new GTI R5 rally versions on display, but a large number of Polo R WRC road cars also turned up. The 217bhp limited edition models from 2013 lined up alongside examples of the World Rally Championship-winning title car itself, and made quite a sight.

Volkswagen Polo R WRCs at GTI Coming Home 2018 event (Image: Neil Birkitt, Volkswagen Driver magazine)

As with last year’s debut meeting, one of the highlights of the GTI Coming Home event was the cavalcade of around 250 cars through the Wolfsburg plant itself, driving down Mittelstrasse to Südstrasse, passing the iconic Brand Tower – with it large and illuminated VW roundel – before ending at the Kraftwerk, the instantly-recognisable power station. The meeting also saw the covers pulled off the new Golf GTI TCR production car for the first time in Germany, while the all-electric, all-conquering I.D. Pikes Peak racing car was also on show.

A gallery is featured below, but a full five-page report appears in the November 2018 issue of Volkswagen Driver magazine, on sale now. It also includes the second part of PoloDriver.com editor Rich Gooding’s Polo GTI retrospective, focusing on the 9N3 GTI 1.8T. For more pictures and information, head down to your local newsagent, visit the Volkswagen Driver website, or download the magazine digitally at pocketmags.com.

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05 October 2018 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Motorsport reveals final look and livery for Polo GTI R5

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

Twenty days before it makes its competitive debut on the Rally Spain, Volkswagen Motorsport has pulled the covers off the livery which will adorn the new Polo GTI R5. Borrowing a style seen on the Golf GTI TCR touring car – also a Volkswagen customer sports racer – the Polo GTI R5’s optical style incorporates many of the typical ‘GTI’ branding motifs, including a red, white and black colour scheme, as well as the now traditional ‘honeycomb’ elements.

Typically, as is the standard in motorsport, the latest rally Polo’s striking look was applied as a film. ‘The Polo GTI R5 looks really exciting,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. Nico Mühr, Exterior Design Volkswagen, commented: ‘We purposely used many of the design elements from the production vehicles of the GTI family for the Polo GTI R5.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

‘Distinctive look’
‘In addition to the typical colours of red, white, black and the line on the front grille, it is the GTI icons with their honeycomb structure in particular that give the new rally Polo its distinctive look. Ultimately, the Polo GTI R5, despite its extreme rally look, remains clearly identifiable as – no doubt the fastest – member of the Polo family,’ he stated.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

The first Polo GTI R5s will be delivered to their new customer team owners in November. What they will take delivery of is a 270bhp, four-wheel drive machine, which can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 4.1 seconds. Powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection engine, and weighing 1,230kg, the new stage-munching Polo has a 20-month development period behind it, which includes over 10,000 test kilometres in a range of climates.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

This thoroughness is due in part to the regulations. ‘Only minimal technical modifications are allowed to be made to an R5 during the specified motorsport lifetime of five years,’ explained Gerard Jan de Jongh, Technical Project Lead Polo GTI R5. ‘This is why we prepared ourselves as well and thoroughly as possible.’ Rally aces Eric Camilli and Petter Solberg have been confirmed as the drivers that will pilot the Polo GTI R5 on its Rally Spain debut, which starts on 25 October.

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21 September 2018 ~ 0 Comments

WRC comeback: Petter Solberg to pilot Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 at Rally Spain

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

After the naming of Eric Camilli as the first Polo GTI R5 driver for the car’s sole official works outing at Rally Spain, former World Rally Championship (WRC) winner Petter Solberg has been revealed as the brand-new motorsport Polo’s second pilot for the Catalonian event.

Perhaps not a total surprise, Norwegian Solberg has enjoyed links with Volkswagen Motorsport since 2017 when the Hanover-based outfit agreed to lend support to his PSRX Volkswagen Sweden squad which competes in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. A winning team, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden has been crowned team champion again in 2018, with Solberg’s co-driver Johan Kristoffersson taking the individual spoils once again, after last year’s success.

2003 world rally champion
The Rally Spain was Solberg’s last full WRC outing, and he will drive the event with co-driver Veronica Engan in the WRC2 class, for which the Polo GTI R5 has been specially designed. Solberg was rally world champion in 2003 before exiting the sport in 2012, and this year’s Rally Spain will play host to three world champions, as Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier will join Solberg and the new customer motorsports Polo on the starting line on 25 October.

‘The opportunity to make a WRC comeback with Volkswagen is a unique one, and I was very happy to accept the offer,’ said Solberg. ‘When I drove the car in January in Sweden, I didn’t want to stop. Everything about the Polo GTI R5 worked from the very beginning. I am really looking forward to the Rally Spain, and to be in the car for the very first time is a real privilege for
me.

‘I always used to like the combination of gravel and asphalt. It will obviously be a special feeling to return to the place I brought the curtain down on my rally career back in 2012. It will be a fantastic reunion with the WRC family, but one with a professional background. I obviously want to get the R5 Polo off to a good start with a good result,’ he continued.

Petter Solberg

‘A true rally hero’
Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets said: ‘Petter is a true rally hero. We have already experienced his passion and professionalism working alongside him in World Rallycross. Petter always gives 110 per cent, and he has tested the Polo GTI R5 and has always been one of our preferred candidates for the debut of our new car. It is fantastic that he will drive the R5 Polo in Spain, and everyone is looking forward to the rally and to working with Petter and his team-mate Eric Camilli.’

Over 14 years between 1998 and 2012, Solberg made 188 WRC appearances. He has driven for teams including Citroën, Ford, Toyota, and perhaps most famously, Subaru, with whom he scored his world championship title in 2003, ahead of rally legends Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz. The last Nordic world rally champion, Solberg drove for his own team from 2009 to 2011, and returned to Ford in 2012 as a works driver.

His stats are impressive, clocking up 52 podium results, with 13 of them being rally wins, alongside 457 stage wins and a total of 852 points. The 2018 Rally Spain is the Norwegian’s first WRC event with Volkswagen. After the switch from WRC to the World Rallycross Championship (WRX), the 43 year-old won the drivers’ title in both 2014 and 2015, with Volkswagen Motorsport and Solberg’s PSRX team partnership arriving at the start of 2017.

Successful from the off, the squad took the team title and was behind the 2017 world champion, Johan Kristoffersson, in its first year. Volkswagen Motorsport is responsible for the development and technical preparation of the two Polo R Supercars (which are ex-Volkswagen Motorsport, WRC-prepared Polos), while PSRX Volkswagen Sweden looks after the logistics, on-site running of the car, and marketing. Solberg meanwhile remains the only driver to have won the drivers’ title in two different FIA world championships.

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19 September 2018 ~ 0 Comments

Eric Camilli named as first driver to debut Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 at Rally Spain

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

Following the recent announcement that the first 15 Polo GTI R5s have been presented to their new owners, Volkswagen Motorsport has named Eric Camilli as the first driver for the car’s competitive debut at Rally Spain, which runs from 25 to 28 October.

Significant role
Camilli is a World Rally Championship 2 (WRC 2) runner-up, and along with co-driver Benjamin Veillas, has played a significant role in the development of Volkswagen Motorsport’s new 270bhp customer sports racer. The Polo GTI R5’s debut in Spain will be its only works appearance before it enters competition with its new customer teams. Camilli and Veillas meanwhile, have clocked up 31 stage wins and three podium finishes, including a victory at Rally Germany.

Frenchman Camilli was delighted at his appointment: ‘When Sven Smeets and R5 project lead Jan de Jongh gave me the good news, it was a lovely, belated birthday present. I am proud to be part of the team at this premiere. After an intensive year of testing, it is great to be competing in the first rally with the Polo GTI R5 and I have plenty of motivation to do well. Ben and I will prepare diligently for Rally Spain and hopefully we will be able to start the R5 Polo on its career path with a good result.’

Eric Camilli

‘Experienced team’
‘Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas are an experienced team and did a valuable job during testing with the Polo GTI R5,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. ‘It is the logical next step for them to take their WRC 2 experience into this competitive debut. Having Eric and Ben in the cockpit puts us in an excellent position.’ The driver and co-driver line-up for the second Polo GTI R5 will be announced at a later date, while the 15 new customer cars will be delivered from November.

The new GTI R5 isn’t the only Polo Camilli has experienced. The 31 year-old owned a fourth-generation version of the small Volkswagen as his second car. ‘My second car was a Polo, a used 2005 Polo IV Trendline with 63bhp, in silver,’ explained Camilli. ‘Volkswagens are such reliable cars. And I like the design.’

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

‘Impressive history’
As for the new four-wheel drive competition machine, Camilli/Veillas drove around one third of the 10,000 test kilometres. ‘The Polo GTI R5 has an impressive history and reacts very precisely when you are driving. I think that it is a very good R5 car – but we will only know for certain after Rally Spain in October and the first head-to-head comparison with the very strong competition,’ commented Camilli.

Rally Spain marks the return of Benjamin Veillas to Volkswagen Motorsport in Hannover. When it was running the four-time world champion Polo R WRC, the 40 year-old Frenchman played a role in Sébastien Ogier’s spotter and weather crew. Veillas has been driving with Camilli since 2014’s Rally France event, and the duo have celebrated six podiums in the WRC 2 class and one best stage time in top-flight WRC so far.

ERIC CAMILLI PROFILE
Date/place of birth: 6 September 1987, Nice
Hobbies: Sport, especially running and trials

Career highlights
2017: 2nd place in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2), 1 win
2016: 11th place in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
2014: 2nd place Volant Peugeot, 1 win

WRC 2 successes
17 rallies, six podiums (including one win), 31 stage wins, 144 championship points.

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