05 March 2012 ~ 0 Comments

All systems go as Polo R WRC completes first gravel test in Spain

2012 Volkswagen Polo R WRC gravel test, Spain

Last week Volkswagen Motorsport filled the last hole in the Polo R WRC’s rally testing programme, by testing the car in Spain on gravel. The rally challenger has now been driven on all surfaces that feature on the World Rally Championship, and the 700 kilometres driven near Almería in the south of Spain were the last pieces of the puzzle. Now using a custom-built car rather than the ‘0’ development car, the pairing of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia put the car through its paces.

‘For us, it was mainly about driving this car on as many kilometres as possible on very hard ground. In parallel, we made a few minor changes to the setup in order to pick up speed step by step,’ explained Ogier. Former World Rally champion Carlos Sainz was also on hand to give his opinion, and sat alongside Ogier, taking the wheel before the end of the test session, co-driven by by Timo Gottschalk. Covering twice the distance of a WRC round, there where no problems reported with the car.

‘Around 70% of the WRC consists of gravel tracks, about 20% of asphalt, and roughly 10% of ice and snow. The gravel test served to simulate the roughest WRC sections and to take the car to its load and stress limits. Particularly chassis components such as the hub carriers, dampers and suspension components were successfully tested in the limit range,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen.‘

‘Carlos Sainz – who with two title wins and 26 rally victories is one of the most successful drivers in WRC history – and Sébastien Ogier are working together extremely well – the two are forming a very good combination. They respect each other without any rivalry and are purposefully driving the project forwards. Our next step will be to run further tests on tarmac to complete our specifications book.’

Sainz was equally enthusiastic. ‘During my active days, I drove thousands of test kilometres and hope to be able to support Volkswagen with my experience,’ said the ex-Dakar Rally driver. ‘I have a lot of confidence in the squad and the Polo R WRC will no doubt be a big hit. But we mustn’t forget that 2013 will be the Polo’s first year in WRC, whereas the competition have been active for many years.’

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