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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31 December 2017 ~ 0 Comments

The PoloDriver.com review of 2017

2017 was yet another busy year for the Volkswagen Polo. The launch and introduction of the all-new sixth-generation model has been the major news, and although there has been no Polo rally action in 2017, the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI has dominated the World Rallycross Championship in the hands of Johan Kristoffersson.

But, with a debut for the new Polo GTI R5 later in 2018, the stages look set for a Polo return to asphalt and gravel action. The Engen Volkswagen Cup in South Africa is due to run new-generation Polo GTIs, too, in 2018, so next year’s Polo motorsport activity is shaping up very nicely.

Right now, though, we round up the Polo’s biggest achievements in 2017. (Bold entries are illustrated by the picture above that particular month’s list of events.)

2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

January

  • Al-Attiyah confirms no Polo R WRC in 2017 FIA World Rally Championship
  • PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden rallycross team confirmed
  • Polo Sound special edition launched in Germany
  • Indian-market Polo GTI wins Autocar India’s Performance Hatchback of the Year award
  • Polo is the tenth best-selling car in Europe (JATO).

2016 Volkswagen Polo GTI 230

February

  • FIA prohibits complete homologation of 2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC
  • Polo GTI 230 special edition for Switzerland
  • Guy Wilks confirmed for Polo RX in 2017 World Rallycross Championship
  • Polo-based VW Ameo wins Car India and Bike India’s ’Compact Sedan Of The Year’ award
  • Polo is the seventh best-selling car in the UK.

2017 Volkswagen Citi Vivo (South Africa)

March

  • Citi Vivo special edition launched in South Africa
  • 1,250,000th Polo production jubilee celebrated by Volkswagen South Africa
  • Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI R-Line launched in South Africa
  • PSRX Volkswagen Sweden reveals 2017 World Rallycross Polo GTI Supercar
  • Volkswagen Motorsport announces new Polo R5 rally car testing plans
  • Indian-market Polo GTI wins the Thrill of Driving Award at the Times Auto Awards
  • Polo-based VW Ameo wins the Compact Sedan of the Year at the Times Auto Awards
  • Polo is the seventh best-selling car in the UK.

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

April


  • PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTIs show pace at World RX of Barcelona
  • Kristoffersson drives Polo GTI Supercar to World RX of Portugal podium
  • Volkswagen India launches limited edition Polo GT Sport
  • Indian-market Polo GTI wins Flywheel Auto Awards’ 2017 Performance Hatchback of the Year award
  • Indian-market Polo GTI wins BBC Top Gear Awards’ 2017 Hot Hatch of the Year award
  • Polo is the ninth best-selling car in the UK.

2018 Volkswagen Polo prototype

May

  • Fifth-generation Polo-based Volkswagen Vento Allstar and GT launched in Malaysia
  • World RX of Hockenheim podium place for Kristoffersson and Polo GTI
  • PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTIs dominate World RX of Belgium with double podium
  • Sixth-generation Polo prototype drives and ‘sneak peek’ video published
  • Solberg and Kristoffersson do the double at World RX of Great Britain
  • Polo is the fifth best-selling car in the UK.

2017 Volkswagen Polo world premiere

June

  • Volkswagen launches sixth-generation Polo ‘teaser’ video campaign
  • Johan Kristoffersson takes second 2017 World RX victory in Norway
  • First images of new Polo revealed ahead of 16 June world premiere
  • New sixth-generation Polo unveiled at Berlin world premiere event on 16 June
  • Polo is the eighth best-selling car in the UK.

> Read More

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07 November 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen releases first details of Polo GTI R5 world rally challenger

2017 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

Teased at the time of the demise of the multi-title-winning Volkswagen Polo R WRC last December, Volkswagen has today announced the first details of its ‘customer’-specification replacement, the Polo GTI R5.

The new 270bhp rally machine will take to the stages in the second half of 2018, and will be available to professional teams as well as ‘aspiring drivers’, and will be eligible for the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in which its full works factory-backed car won four driver and manufacturer championships.

Based on sixth-generation Polo
The new tarmac and gravel car is based on the sixth-generation Polo (so we suspect it will share the road car’s five-door silhouette) and has been developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in Hannover, who also built the 318bhp Polo R WRC. Volkswagen Motorsport Technical Director – and ‘father’ of the Polo R WRC – François-Xavier ‘FX’ Demaison is responsible for leading the development of the Polo GTI R5.

Dutchman and former race engineer for Sébastien Ogier, Gerard-Jan de Jongh is the Polo GTI R5 senior project engineer and also brings his expertise from the Polo R WRC programme: the Frenchman won the World Rally Championship drivers’ title with Volkswagen four times in a row. Initial test drives of the Polo GTI R5 will place later this year.

‘First-class racing machine’
‘Before the first race outing next year, we will subject the Polo GTI R5 to rigorous testing to make sure it is prepared for the extremely varied track conditions around the world, commented Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. ‘With the Polo GTI R5 we are hoping to transfer our expertise from four WRC titles to customer racing successfully, and offer a first-class racing machine for countless rally championships from national series to the WRC,’ he continued.

One interesting correlation is the naming of the new car ‘GTI R5’. Already forging a link to the road-going Polo with the 2017 World Rallycross championship Polo GTI RXs run by PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden, the new car will also bear the legendary Volkswagen three letters to draw links to, and promote, the new 197bhp Polo GTI which will be launched at the end of this year.

Turbocharged, four-wheel drive
Like the new hot-shot Polo, the GTI R5 has a direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engine. There is also four-wheel drive – surely now that’s reason enough for a 300bhp Polo R, Volkswagen? – as well as a five-speed sequential racing transmission. A comprehensive safety package features, too.

The R5 category was introduced by the FIA in 2012 and enables importers, privateers, and teams the opportunity to compete in regional as well as international rally championships. The Polo GTI R5 will form an important second pillar for Volkswagen Motorsport’s new and realigned customer-focused portfolio: the Golf GTI TCR touring car has been winning circuit events and titles since its introduction in 2016.

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09 February 2017 ~ 0 Comments

FIA prohibits complete homologation of 2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

It’s now official. This week, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) ruled that the 2017-specification Volkswagen Polo R WRC will not be eligible to compete in any of the events in the 2017 World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar.

Missed deadline
The ruling was given by officials on Tuesday 7 February, after consulting with other manufacturer teams in the series. The 2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC was close to homologation completion, but missed the 1 January deadline, reports Autosport.

Volkswagen Motorsport had planned to offer the completely homologated car to private teams in this year’s WRC. Almost all the necessary homologation work had been completed by the German outfit, with hopes that the 2017-spec machine would be allowed through on a waiver.

However, after several discussions, that now will not happen. 

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets, told wrc.com: ‘Following customer enquiries, Volkswagen Motorsport asked the FIA for a waiver of the homologation of the 2017 Volkswagen Polo World Rally Car, with the purpose being to rent it out to private drivers and teams.

‘Constructive discussions’
‘It now turns out that this is not possible under the current WRC regulations. We fully accept the result, but at the same time regret it in the interests of our customers. We would like to thank the FIA for the very constructive discussions.’

Plans to offer private customers and teams the ex-championship winning 2016-specification Volkswagen Polo R WRC are still underway. Volkswagen Motorsport surprisingly pulled the plug on its World Rally Championship team in November 2016 after four seasons of domination.

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03 January 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Al-Attiyah confirms no Polo R WRC
in 2017 FIA World Rally Championship

2017 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

With the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) due to get underway with this month’s Rally Monte-Carlo on 19 January, it has been confirmed that there will be no Polo R WRCs on the entry list. Rumours circulated at the end of 2016 that 2015 Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah was looking to enter the car privately as almost all of the development work has already been completed by Volkswagen Motorsport.

Lack of time
Lack of time proved the ultimate stumbling block however, as the 2017 iteration of the world championship-winning Polo was close to homologation. Al-Attiyah commented to motorsport.com that ‘time was very limited’, and that despite his plan – which was backed by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund which owns 14.6 per cent of the Volkswagen Group – sadly the deal just did not happen in an acceptable timeframe.

It had been reported in the Finnish press before Christmas 2016 that around 15m euros would have been pumped into the project by the Qatari fund, and that each 2017-specification Polo R WRC would cost in the region of 10m euros. Now that the car will not run this year, the focus has now switched to ensure that all-conquering rallying Polo is back to contest the 2018 series.

Unconfirmed rumours also suggested that VW may have been eligible to enter a pair of Polos into the 2017 WRC series to ensure that the homologation process – which was already underway – was complete. However, the overall cost of the 2017 programme would have had to be met privately and not by Volkswagen itself.

Nasser Al-Attiyah

Two-car squad
Current and four-time world rally champion Sébastien Ogier was mooted to make up a two-car squad with Al-Attiyah (above), but again, time wasn’t on the now departed VW driver’s side. The Frenchman had a limited period in which to make up his mind to secure a seat for the Monte-Carlo event, after VW’s shock announcement in November that 2016 would be its last year of WRC participation. Ogier has since signed for M-Sport, and will start his 2017 season on the start ramp in Monte-Carlo behind the wheel of the new Ford Fiesta WRC.

Even though the 2017 Polo R WRC may not compete, there may be hope for the already proven 2016 machine. A new WRC Trophy class has been created especially for 2016-specification cars, with drivers scoring points on a maximum of seven rallies, with the best six results counting towards drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles. There was talk of Al-Attiyah competing in a 2016-spec Polo R WRC before the collapse of the 2017 car deal, but there has been no confirmation of the current rallying Polo’s inclusion.

At the end of November, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets hinted to wrc.com that a slew of ex-championship Polos would be available for customer use in 2017: ‘I am happy to announce that we can rent out the 2016 cars next year. It’s something new for us, and we have had some contact already because news and interest spreads quickly. After the 2016 Rally Australia we will take this up on a first-come-first-served basis’.

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