01 December 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Official racing Polo activity halted as Volkswagen motorsport programmes end

Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH, the Hanover-based outfit behind the four World Rally Championship title-winning Polo R WRC, and the current Polo GTI R5, is being integrated into Volkswagen AG. The 169-strong workforce will be offered employment at Volkswagen AG, as the company ceases all motorsport activities and realigns itself with the age of electromobility.

Successful run
Production of the sixth-generation Polo-based GTI R5 will finish at the end of 2020, though spare parts will be ‘ensured in the long term’ to service teams who run the 270bhp four-wheel drive machines in national and international championships. An end to the Polo’s successful run which began in 2013, it sadly spells the final curtain on the Polo’s officially backed role in motorsport.

In addition to the quartet of World Rally Championship titles Volkswagen Motorsport scored with the Polo R WRC from 2013-2016, the Polo RX won a trio of rallycross world championship titles in 2017, 2018 and 2020, most notably through a pairing with Petter Solberg. Up-and-coming driver Johan Kristoffersson also formed an unbeatable and winning bond with the rallycross Polo.

2017 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI Supercar, World RX of Hockenheim: Kristoffersson

VW states it is “pooling its strengths for the transformation into the mobile electric age” as part of its wide-ranging refocus. ‘The Volkswagen brand is on the way to becoming the leading provider of sustainable electromobility,’ stated Dr Frank Welsch, Volkswagen brand Board Member for Development.

‘We are pooling our strengths and have decided to discontinue our own motorsport activities for the Volkswagen brand. The workforce will subsequently be integrated into Volkswagen AG.’ Welsch also explained that the ‘in-depth technical expertise’ of the Volkswagen Motorsport employees and the knowledge gained from the ID R electric racing car project will feed into the development of the incoming ID range of cars.

‘Significant sporting successes’
‘The Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH team has had significant sporting successes for the brand over the decades. My sincere thanks go to all employees for the many victories, titles and records around the world and their personal commitment,’ said Wilfried von Rath, Volkswagen brand Member of the Board of Management, adding that the Hanover workforce will be offered employment at Volkswagen AG in Wolfsburg, and will be integrated into the company over the coming months.

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Great Britain: Ogier/Ingrassia

As well as the components for the Polo GTI R5, spares for the Golf GTI TCR will also be safe in the long term. The 335bhp track machine secured a pair of TCR International titles in 2016 and 2017. Both machines are customer sports propositions, Volkswagen Motorsport not running any ‘factory-backed’ teams itself.

Five-decade history
Volkswagen Motorsport’s history goes back five decades, starting with Formula Vee in the 1960s and 1970s. Subsequent participation in Formula 3, national and World Rally Championships (with both second and third-generation Golf GTIs, as well as the Polo R WRC), circuit racing series and three Dakar Rally events show it was a company to be reckoned with in the world of motorsport.

More recently, the electric ID R single-seater successfully showcased Volkswagen Motorsport’s technical skill. The EV racer holds five international records, including the overall fastest hill climb times at Pikes Peak and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, as well as the quickest electric car lap on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.

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