03 March 2013 ~ 1 Comment

Altitude, gravel and heat – the Polo R WRC makes its debut in Mexico

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Fresh from its victory at the Rally Sweden last month, the Polo R WRC makes its Mexican debut this week at Rally Mexico, which runs from 7-10 March. The third round of the World Rally Championship (WRC), the 315bhp four-wheel drive rally Polo will face altitudes of up to 2700m above sea level, and a loose gravel surface, neither of which it has faced before. The 395km of 23 special stages begin on Thursday with the Guanajuato Street Stage, at the site of former silver mine – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With shafts converted into roads, over 80,000 rally fans are expected to make the pilgrimage to see their WRC heroes.

With the altitudes come potential problems. As the air thins out the higher the cars climb, the 1.6-litre turbocharged engines lose between 28 and 30 per cent of their performance. The Volkswagen Motorsport engineers have prepared as well as possible for the demands of the high plains in the Sierra de Lobos, technologically helping the turbocharger from overheating –the key is to limit loss of performance without endangering the turbocharger’s stability.

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Rally Sweden winner Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8), is looking forward to the event: ‘I was delighted with the win in Sweden. The way we presented ourselves as a team over the entire weekend was very impressive. However, that is yesterday’s news. For me personally, it is always very special to line up in Mexico. It was there that I drove my very first rally in the World Championship back in 2008 – and I promptly won my first race in the Junior WRC class. And, just like back then, we are now starting out on a new venture there with the Polo R WRC. Rally Mexico will give us our first true indication of how good the car is on a gravel surface.’

Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #7), said: ‘One of the most important aspects of preparing for Mexico is how well you can cope with the time difference. If you have adapted to local time well, then your senses are sharper during the Recce. For this reason, I travel to California two weeks prior to the start, in order to acclimatise. We have to adapt in a lot of ways: unlike in Sweden, the grip level does not change as often on gravel. Despite all this, your concentration is really put to the test in Mexico.’

Meanwhile, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito is excited about how the Polo R WRC will fare in the unknown conditions: ‘The thin air and temperatures of above 30 degrees have a real impact – on both driver and co-driver, as well as the technology. The Rally Mexico is also the first round of the season on gravel, and we are obviously very excited to see how competitive the Polo is in Mexico.’

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