13 January 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Finely tuned with detail improvements: Volkswagen unveils 2016 Polo R WRC

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Remember the 2015 unveiling of the new Polo R WRC at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg headquarters? The trio of driver crews and key personnel were all present and correct to pull the covers off the dark blue and white-liveried 2015 World Rally Championship challenger. No such glitz for 2016: just a press release and a photo which doesn’t give too much of the slightly different livery away.

‘Gentle evolution’
Volkswagen Motorsport claim that ‘the most successful car in WRC history is now even better’, though. With a whole host of new regulations due in 2017, few changes could be made for 2016, and the German motorsport outfit states that the 2016 Polo R WRC is a ‘gentle evolution’ with a few systematic improvements.

Those changes are largely to improve the reliability of the three-title-winning car, with the ‘2.2’ version of the second-generation Polo R WRC boasting increased stability. A strengthened front subframe is joined by similarly beefed-up rear-axle wishbones on gravel-specification cars. The 1.6-litre turbocharged 318bhp engine sees modified pistons.

Externally, we’ll have to wait until the first round of the 2016 series, the Rally Monte Carlo (21-24 January) to see the full extent of the livery changes, but the front of the new Polo R WRC sees more white areas return – as in 2013 and 2014 when the whole body shell was largely devoid of colour. Otherwise, the official photo seen here does little to expose how similar the 2016 car will appear when compared to its 2015 predecessor.

‘Fine-tuning, detailed improvements’
‘We are about to defend our world championship title for the third time in a row,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. ‘The opposition has not been sleeping, and has modified its cars for the new season. So have we: the changes to the Polo R WRC are basically fine-tuning and detailed improvements to make the world championship-winning car even better.

‘You have to bear in mind that the regulations in the World Rally Championship only allow a few modifications within a homologation period. Thanks to this stability, it is possible to challenge for the title for several years with an existing car, making only detailed improvements. That is precisely our goal for 2016.’

The 2016 FIA World Rally Championship will include 14 rounds (one additional rally over the 2015 calendar), with China added and the Rally Great Britain moving from its traditional championship closer position to become the penultimate round – the final round in 2016 will be Rally Australia in November.

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