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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