24 April 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Pirelli named official exclusive tyre supplier for the Polo GTI R5

Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli has been appointed as official exclusive supplier to the Polo GTI R5. Volkswagen Motorsport states that from 2020, its customer sports rally car will be delivered exclusively with Pirelli competition tyres, and that its new partner will also now supply the car’s rubber for testing sessions.

Since the start of the year, the 270bhp four-wheel drive rallying Polo has been fitted with 235/40 R18 (size 20/65 18) asphalt Pirelli rubber. Official fitments will now be the P Zero RA for asphalt surfaces – in hard, medium, soft and supersoft compounds – the Scorpion K for gravel, and the Sottozero Ice and Sottozero Snow for events in winter conditions.

‘Great success in rallying’
‘We are delighted to welcome Pirelli as an official supplier of the Volkswagen customer rallying project,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets. ‘Pirelli is synonymous with great success in rallying and is very prevalent in international and national series held in accordance with R5 regulations. This way, our customers receive top-class and extremely successful tyre technology with the delivery of their Polo GTI R5.’

‘The technology contained within our rally tyres is born from a long experience at the top of motorsport,’ said Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli’s rally activity manager. ‘Our latest collaboration with Volkswagen on the Polo GTI R5 highlights the close collaboration that Pirelli enjoys with the world’s leading car makers to develop the best possible interaction between cars and tyres, delivering maximum performance in competition.’

A celebrated partnership
Since its debut at the 2018 Rally Spain, the Polo GTI R5 has celebrated four titles, 75 overall victories and class wins, as well as 150 podium results in the hands of customer teams. Fifty cars were delivered up to the end of 2019. Volkswagen’s motorsport association with Pirelli dates back as far as 1976, when the Italian tyre maker was the exclusive supplier for the first VW one-make series, the Scirocco-starring Volkswagen Junior Cup. In rallying, Pirelli and Volkswagen were crowned Group A world champions together in 1986. More recently, Pirelli, VW Motorsport and the Polo GTI R5 won titles in Estonia and Latvia with Oliver Solberg and Aaron Johnston.

Pirelli’s motorsport history stretches back over 110 years, and the Milanese firm has celebrated notable successes on the race track and rally stages. It debuted in the inaugural season of the World Rally Championship in 1973, and subsequently won 25 world championship titles and 181 race wins, with the P7 and P Zero among its roll-call of successes. Among its most acclaimed victories include WRC wins with Richard Burns/Robert Reid in 2001, Petter Solberg/Phil Mills in 2003, and Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena in 2008. Pirelli will also supply the top most category in the WRC for the coming season.

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05 March 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Motorsport fine tunes Polo GTI R5 with a package of updates

Despite its recent announcement to focus its motorsport strategy on electric mobility, Volkswagen Motorsport has revealed plans to technically fine tune the Polo GTI R5 rally car over the course of the next 12 months. The 268bhp, four-wheel drive special stage star has over 125 podium finishes to its name up to the end of 2019.

Following on from the multi-championship-winning Polo R WRC, the latest rallying Polo is sold by Volkswagen Motorsport as part of its customer sport programme, and has been overwhelmingly successful around the world. Findings from these global events have fed back into the updating of the car, and the Polo GTI R5 will be the recipient of upgraded suspension components in the spring 2020, with other modified parts to follow over the course of the year.

Package of improvements
Several cars have already been delivered to teams with new chassis components, but a larger package of improvements will be added over the next 12 months. These detail changes will be homologated for use in competitions including the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), and other national championships. As well as the improved mechanical upgrades, production of the rallying Polo is also being stepped up to meet the huge demand – 20 per cent more Polo GTI R5 than initially planned will now be built in 2020. Production will also continue beyond 2020.

‘The success story of the Polo GTI R5 is overwhelming. In customer hands, it has claimed more than 75 victories and 125 podium finishes up to the end of 2019,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets. ‘However, it is not only the success of our customers that is important to us, but also their experience in a wide range of conditions – whether on asphalt, gravel, or ice and snow. Our engineers use this feedback to make detailed improvements to the Polo GTI R5. Our goal is to ensure that the Polo GTI R5 remains successful.’

‘Comprehensive feedback’
‘If you are not moving forward, you are always moving backward in the world of motorsport,’ said François-Xavier Demaison, technical director at Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘As such, it is hugely important to be constantly working on ideas for improved performance and durability. Thanks to the comprehensive feedback we receive from our customers, we have been working on updates for the Polo GTI R5 since 2019 and the first detailed improvements are already being delivered to customers.’

To facilitate the updates, Volkswagen Motorsport states that ‘countless amounts of feedback’ from teams and drivers currently running the Polo GTI R5 in series from locations as far and wide as the Arctic Circle to Africa, and North and South America to Europe, have been collected and analysed. A professional feedback system now makes the process simpler and more direct.

Despite the statement that ‘a clear emphasis on fully electric racing cars will be backed up by the farewell to factory-backed commitments using internal combustion engines’ which Volkswagen Motorsport released in November 2019, the Polo GTI R5 remains, for now at least, an integral part of Volkswagen Motorsport’s customer sport offering. In the same statement, the Hanover outfit said it will still be responsible for continued customer support, spare parts supply and the competitiveness of the rallying Polo, it was just factory-backed competition entries with the GTI R5 that will no longer go ahead.

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28 January 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Solberg and Polo GTI R5 slide into impressive Rallye Monte-Carlo debut



Norwegian up-and-coming rally star Oliver Solberg took on the 2020 Rallye Monte-Carlo in a Polo GTI R5 and although his participation was just to gain experience during his first tarmac event, the son of rallying and rallycross ace Petter Solberg posted hugely impressive times in his Monster Energy-backed Volkswagen.

The 18-year-old is a seasoned Polo GTI R5 helmsman, having contested numerous European Rally Championship events last season. Along with co-driver Aaron Johnston, Solberg took a hat-trick of titles in 2019 (Latvia Rally champion, the Baltic Rally Trophy and an Estonian class win) aboard the Polo GTI R5. The pair also took on Wales Rally GB, their first World Rally Championship (WRC) event.

A measured approach
For the 189-mile Monte test (23-26 January), a measured approach was the order of the day. Safe tyre choices and sensible lines translated into gained knowledge and experience, but there were still respectable pace. The Monster Energy Polo posted a third fastest R5 class time on the second run at the Cubans – Venterol test, but later clipped a kerb with the left-rear wheel, the ever-eager Solberg revelling in his and Johnston’s first running of the legendary event. It was one of the event’s lessons given to the young driver.

‘Even when I hit the kerb, at literally walking speed, I learned so much. I used the handbrake to rotate the car, but on the ice it slid too far. The wheel hit the kerb at a really low speed, but at the wrong angle. We broke a bolt in the suspension and had to stop and make the repair ourselves. I always said I wasn’t coming here for the race, I was coming here to learn and I have learned so much!’ As well as the knowledge the duo took away, they finished 16th in the WRC2 class and 25th overall.

A particular highlight was the stage over the infamous Col de Turini. ‘Like every rally fan, for my whole life I watched cars coming over this incredible mountain road and to be there, to drive through that atmosphere with so many fans was just unbelievable. I’ll never forget it.’

‘Just incredible’
The Norwegian superstar-in-waiting really enjoyed his first Monte, which took place in a range of ever-changing weather conditions. ‘Everything everybody told me about the Monte was true. It is such a difficult rally. So difficult! Everything we did on this event was new. I’ve never competed on tarmac before, everything we had done in the previous years had been getting ready for gravel rallies – which are the ones we will be doing most. We had a test before this event, but when we came to these conditions it was just incredible.

‘Everybody said we would be on the wrong tyres for a lot of the time and this was exactly how it was. We were on the ice tyres for a long time on Saturday morning, doing these huge slides as the studs have no grip on the dry asphalt. All the time I was thinking: “Is this right?” And then you come to the full ice and snow and the tyre is perfect. Then you think: “Yes! This is right!”

‘It was a real compromise of everything, but you have to come here to learn that and if you go to the ditch on the first day then you learn nothing. Sometimes I was maybe wanting to push a little bit harder, but I knew there was too much at risk. The problem is, I can’t wait another 12 months to come back – I want to go and do it all again now.’

Solberg Junior will pilot the Polo GTI R5 on more rallies during 2020, but will also slip behind the wheel of a works Škoda Motorsport-supported Fabia Rally2 evo for three of the season’s rounds. The Norwegian’s Fabia-ulous WRC assault starts at Rally Sweden on 13 February. ‘We will still drive the Polo on some rounds,’ said Solberg, who made his WRC debut at Wales Rally GB in October 2019. ‘The main thing for me now is to try to make experience on as many WRC rounds as possible this year.’

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06 June 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Motorsport announces technical fix and update for Polo GTI R5

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

After a spate of Polo GTI R5s unexpectedly and suddenly catching fire – the most recent incident featuring WRC2 star Ole Christian Veiby at last weekend’s Rally Portugal – Volkswagen Motorsport has announced that a technical update will be applied to current customers’ cars.

After consulting with experts, the Hanover outfit states that the problem appears to lie with the position of the safety valve on the fuel tank, which must be adjusted. After the solution has been tested, all cars sold so far will receive the update free of charge. In the meantime, teams who currently run the 270bhp machine have been advised of the findings and have received fuel and check recommendations. The full official Volkswagen Motorsport press release issued today is reproduced below.

Update for the Polo GTI R5: customer cars will be revised
Volkswagen Motorsport is working flat out on a technical update for the Polo GTI R5, after multiple customer cars suffered fire damage at rallies in recent weeks. Working together with experts and consultants, Volkswagen Motorsport has thoroughly investigated several of the cars affected and has already developed technical solutions based on the results. Tests have been arranged at short notice. Once these have been completed, all customer cars will receive the update free of charge.

The investigations revealed that the position of the safety valve on the fuel tank must be adjusted, as its function may be restricted when using a specific fuel. In some instances, the fuel cell breathing system becomes blocked, resulting in ‘over’ pressure. Together with the heat from the exhaust, this ‘over’ pressure can cause a deformation of the tank cover. This can ultimately result in contact between the propshaft and the exhaust, ultimately causing damage to the fuel cell system.

Based on these findings, Volkswagen Motorsport has developed a technical solution. The plan is to reinforce the tank cover around the propshaft and exhaust with a steel support and to optimise the insulation. The fuel cell breathing system is being modified, in order to reliably regulate any possible ‘over’ pressure. Furthermore, the clearance between the central exhaust and the tank is to be increased.

All these measures will be tested in good time and in realistic conditions. Once they have been successfully evaluated, all Polo GTI R5 will receive the update free of charge. Customer teams have already been informed of the procedure and have also received recommendations for suitable fuels and regular checks on their cars.

For more details on the Polo GTI R5, head over to its dedicated pages on the Volkswagen Motorsport website.

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26 April 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Gilbert takes third place at Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône

2019 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône: Gilbert/Guieu

French rally driver Quentin Gilbert has taken his HK Racing Polo GTI R5 to third place at the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône, the second round of the 2019 French Rally Championship. Gilbert and co-driver Christopher Guieu just missed out on a runner-up podium position by just 0.8 seconds, beaten by Citroën C3 R5 driver Yohan Rossel.

But, Gilbert was still pleased his and Guieu’s result after the 130-mile event. ‘Of course, we’re disappointed to have missed out on second place by such a small margin, but all in all this is another good result. We had good speed, even though we could not keep up with the pace at the front.’

The winner of the 2019 Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières Rhône was reigning French rally champion Yoann Bonato in another Citroën C3 R5. Thanks to this result and their second place at the Rallye Touquet Pas-de-Calais opening round, Gilbert and Guieu are second in the overall 2019 championship standings. Find out more at www.ffsa.org.

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