11 March 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Volkswagen hints at turbocharged
Polo WRC challenger for 2012 series

It’s long been rumoured, but yesterday, Volkswagen’s plans for a 2012 entry into the World Rally Championship (WRC) were made a little more public. Expected to confirm a team for the 2012 series by the end of the month, Autocar, Autosport and Auto Express in the UK have all pointed to that entry being, excitingly, Polo-based. An announcement on the 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged Polo WRC is expected to be given an an event celebrating VW’s Dakar Rally victory on 22 March, or at the start of Rally Portugal, which is being staged from 24-27 March 2011.

Why the Polo? Reports suggest that the Scirocco (which was in hot contention to be VW’s WRC challenger) exceeds the WRC’s width restrictions, and with rivals from Citroën and Ford based on the DS3 and Fiesta superminis respectively, a Polo would make much more sense. Sources state that the new engine is based on the unit for the forthcoming Polo R, but as Volkswagen has continually denied that that car actually exists, the new four-pot may well have been exclusively developed to take advantage of the new 1600cc-based WRC rules, which came into play this season.

Volkswagen would more than likely launch a limited assault on the 2012 WRC championship, before committing to a full series in 2013, just as Mini has done this year. Reports state that the company has been busy trying to secure a leading driver (Sebastian Loeb was mooted, but he couldn’t be prised away from Citroën), and current Intercontinental Rally Championship driver Juho Hannien looks to be in the frame. Other notable bodies involved in the project are Volkswagen Dakar driver and rally superhero Carlos Sainz, and ex-Citroën and Subaru engineer Francois-Xavier Demaison. The last works Polo rally car was the Super 1600, first announced in 2002.

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