Archive | WRC

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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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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07 November 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen releases first details of Polo GTI R5 world rally challenger

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

Teased at the time of the demise of the multi-title-winning Volkswagen Polo R WRC last December, Volkswagen has today announced the first details of its ‘customer’-specification replacement, the Polo GTI R5.

The new 270bhp rally machine will take to the stages in the second half of 2018, and will be available to professional teams as well as ‘aspiring drivers’, and will be eligible for the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in which its full works factory-backed car won four driver and manufacturer championships.

Based on sixth-generation Polo
The new tarmac and gravel car is based on the sixth-generation Polo (so we suspect it will share the road car’s five-door silhouette) and has been developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in Hannover, who also built the 318bhp Polo R WRC. Volkswagen Motorsport Technical Director – and ‘father’ of the Polo R WRC – François-Xavier ‘FX’ Demaison is responsible for leading the development of the Polo GTI R5.

Dutchman and former race engineer for Sébastien Ogier, Gerard-Jan de Jongh is the Polo GTI R5 senior project engineer and also brings his expertise from the Polo R WRC programme: the Frenchman won the World Rally Championship drivers’ title with Volkswagen four times in a row. Initial test drives of the Polo GTI R5 will place later this year.

‘First-class racing machine’
‘Before the first race outing next year, we will subject the Polo GTI R5 to rigorous testing to make sure it is prepared for the extremely varied track conditions around the world, commented Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. ‘With the Polo GTI R5 we are hoping to transfer our expertise from four WRC titles to customer racing successfully, and offer a first-class racing machine for countless rally championships from national series to the WRC,’ he continued.

One interesting correlation is the naming of the new car ‘GTI R5’. Already forging a link to the road-going Polo with the 2017 World Rallycross championship Polo GTI RXs run by PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden, the new car will also bear the legendary Volkswagen three letters to draw links to, and promote, the new 197bhp Polo GTI which will be launched at the end of this year.

Turbocharged, four-wheel drive
Like the new hot-shot Polo, the GTI R5 has a direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engine. There is also four-wheel drive – surely now that’s reason enough for a 300bhp Polo R, Volkswagen? – as well as a five-speed sequential racing transmission. A comprehensive safety package features, too.

The R5 category was introduced by the FIA in 2012 and enables importers, privateers, and teams the opportunity to compete in regional as well as international rally championships. The Polo GTI R5 will form an important second pillar for Volkswagen Motorsport’s new and realigned customer-focused portfolio: the Golf GTI TCR touring car has been winning circuit events and titles since its introduction in 2016.

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09 February 2017 ~ 0 Comments

FIA prohibits complete homologation of 2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

It’s now official. This week, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) ruled that the 2017-specification Volkswagen Polo R WRC will not be eligible to compete in any of the events in the 2017 World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar.

Missed deadline
The ruling was given by officials on Tuesday 7 February, after consulting with other manufacturer teams in the series. The 2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC was close to homologation completion, but missed the 1 January deadline, reports Autosport.

Volkswagen Motorsport had planned to offer the completely homologated car to private teams in this year’s WRC. Almost all the necessary homologation work had been completed by the German outfit, with hopes that the 2017-spec machine would be allowed through on a waiver.

However, after several discussions, that now will not happen. 

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets, told wrc.com: ‘Following customer enquiries, Volkswagen Motorsport asked the FIA for a waiver of the homologation of the 2017 Volkswagen Polo World Rally Car, with the purpose being to rent it out to private drivers and teams.

‘Constructive discussions’
‘It now turns out that this is not possible under the current WRC regulations. We fully accept the result, but at the same time regret it in the interests of our customers. We would like to thank the FIA for the very constructive discussions.’

Plans to offer private customers and teams the ex-championship winning 2016-specification Volkswagen Polo R WRC are still underway. Volkswagen Motorsport surprisingly pulled the plug on its World Rally Championship team in November 2016 after four seasons of domination.

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03 January 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Al-Attiyah confirms no Polo R WRC
in 2017 FIA World Rally Championship

2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

With the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) due to get underway with this month’s Rally Monte-Carlo on 19 January, it has been confirmed that there will be no Polo R WRCs on the entry list. Rumours circulated at the end of 2016 that 2015 Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah was looking to enter the car privately as almost all of the development work has already been completed by Volkswagen Motorsport.

Lack of time
Lack of time proved the ultimate stumbling block however, as the 2017 iteration of the world championship-winning Polo was close to homologation. Al-Attiyah commented to motorsport.com that ‘time was very limited’, and that despite his plan – which was backed by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund which owns 14.6 per cent of the Volkswagen Group – sadly the deal just did not happen in an acceptable timeframe.

It had been reported in the Finnish press before Christmas 2016 that around 15m euros would have been pumped into the project by the Qatari fund, and that each 2017-specification Polo R WRC would cost in the region of 10m euros. Now that the car will not run this year, the focus has now switched to ensure that all-conquering rallying Polo is back to contest the 2018 series.

Unconfirmed rumours also suggested that VW may have been eligible to enter a pair of Polos into the 2017 WRC series to ensure that the homologation process – which was already underway – was complete. However, the overall cost of the 2017 programme would have had to be met privately and not by Volkswagen itself.

Nasser Al-Attiyah

Two-car squad
Current and four-time world rally champion Sébastien Ogier was mooted to make up a two-car squad with Al-Attiyah (above), but again, time wasn’t on the now departed VW driver’s side. The Frenchman had a limited period in which to make up his mind to secure a seat for the Monte-Carlo event, after VW’s shock announcement in November that 2016 would be its last year of WRC participation. Ogier has since signed for M-Sport, and will start his 2017 season on the start ramp in Monte-Carlo behind the wheel of the new Ford Fiesta WRC.

Even though the 2017 Polo R WRC may not compete, there may be hope for the already proven 2016 machine. A new WRC Trophy class has been created especially for 2016-specification cars, with drivers scoring points on a maximum of seven rallies, with the best six results counting towards drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles. There was talk of Al-Attiyah competing in a 2016-spec Polo R WRC before the collapse of the 2017 car deal, but there has been no confirmation of the current rallying Polo’s inclusion.

At the end of November, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets hinted to wrc.com that a slew of ex-championship Polos would be available for customer use in 2017: ‘I am happy to announce that we can rent out the 2016 cars next year. It’s something new for us, and we have had some contact already because news and interest spreads quickly. After the 2016 Rally Australia we will take this up on a first-come-first-served basis’.

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