Volkswagen in Customer Racing
Petter Solberg to drive the new Polo GTI R5 in Spain.
He’s back! 2003 champion Petter Solberg (N) returns to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Solberg and co-driver Veronica Engan (N) will compete in the WRC 2 class at the Rally Spain in Catalonia from 25 to 28 October. Six years after his last rally in 2012, the Norwegian will make his comeback in precisely the same place, at which he called time on his rally career. Solberg, who drives a Polo for his PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX), will briefly change fields. The new Polo GTI R5 will make its competitive debut at the Rally Spain, which will be the car’s only outing with the Volkswagen works team. The racing car will then be run by customer teams in national and international championships, in accordance with R5 regulations.
“The opportunity to make a WRC comeback with Volkswagen is a unique one, and I was very happy to accept the offer,” said Solberg. “When I drove the car in January in Sweden, I didn’t want to stop. Everything about the Polo GTI R5 worked from the very beginning. I am really looking forward to the Rally Spain. I always used to like the combination of gravel and asphalt. It will obviously be a special feeling to return to the place I brought the curtain down on my rally career back in 2012. It will be a fantastic reunion with the WRC Family, but one with a professional background. I obviously want to get the R5 Polo off to a good start with a good result.”
Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets: “Petter is a true rally hero. We have already experienced his passion and professionalism working alongside him in World Rallycross. To give everything, always 110 per cent is Petter’s trademark. He has tested the Polo GTI R5 and has always been one of our preferred candidates for the debut of our new customer sport car. It is fantastic that he will drive the R5 Polo in Spain. Everyone in the team is looking forward to the rally and to working with Petter and his team-mate Eric Camilli.”
Petter Solberg returns to his rallying roots
Solberg returns to the WRC from the WRX for a weekend. This sees the Norwegian return to his rallying roots. Between 1998 and 2012, he made 188 appearances in the World Rally Championship – with Toyota, Ford, Subaru and Citroën. In 2003, Solberg won the world championship title with Subaru, ending the season just one point ahead of eventual record-breaking champion Sébastien Loeb and third-placed Spaniard Carlos Sainz. He remains the last nordic world rally champion. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Solberg competed in the WRC with his own team. He then spent one final year as a works driver with Ford in 2012. Solberg claimed 52 podium results in the World Rally Championship, 13 of them victories. The Rally Spain marks Solberg’s first rally with Volkswagen, and his debut in an R5 car.
Three world champions in one WRC rally for the first time for eight years
Solberg is the third world rally champion set to drive at the 2018 Rally Spain, where he will line up against reigning champion Sébastien Ogier and the returning Sébastien Loeb. As such, the last three men to win the title will all compete in Spain – albeit in different classes. The last time three world champions raced at the same event was the 2010 Rally Finland (Loeb, Solberg, Kankkunen).
Solberg and Volkswagen in the WRX – an extremely successful combination
After switching from WRC to WRX, the 43-year-old won the Drivers’ title in both 2014 and 2015. Volkswagen Motorsport and Petter Solberg’s PSRX team announced a partnership at the start of 2017. This has proven to be a winning combination: the team took the Team title and was behind the world champion, Johan Kristoffersson (S), in its very first year. Volkswagen is responsible for the development and technical preparation of the two Polo R Supercars, while PSRX Volkswagen Sweden looks after the logistics, on-site running of the car, and the marketing side of things. Solberg remains the only driver to have won the Drivers’ title in two different FIA world championships.
The Solberg dynasty: drifting and full throttle are in the blood
Solberg originally wanted to be a painter – however, he gave up his training place for motorsport. The rally pedigree within his family tree is evidence of the fact that speed is in his blood. “Mr. Hollywood” comes from an extremely successful dynasty of rally drivers: his parents both successfully took part in Autocross races. His brother Henning Solberg recently claimed the best result for an R5 car in the overall standings at the Rally Turkey – sixth place – and can also look back on an eventful WRC career. When Petter married his wife Pernilla, the Solbergs joined forces with the Walfridsson family – already an established name on the Rallycross and rallying scene. Pernilla was long regarded as one of the best female rally drivers in the world. It is no wonder then that their son Oliver has already enjoyed great success as he follows in his parents’ footstep – including in the FIA Baltic Rally Trophy and the Latvian and Estonian Rally Championship.
Already part of the family: Veronica Engan in the co-driver seat at the Rally Spain
The choice of co-driver for the Rally Spain was an obvious one. Veronica Engan has competed alongside son Oliver in various R2 rallies since 2017, and is virtually a member of the family. The 34-year-old can point to roughly 150 starts with Nordic rally drivers, including Eyvind Brynildsen (N), Marius Aasen (N), Johan Kristoffersson (S), Bernt Kollevold (N) and Anders Grøndal (N). Her career started in 2003, since when she has 27 WRC and seven WRC 2 rallies to her name. Her best result came in 2009, when she finished seventh alongside Mads Østberg at the Rally Italy on Sardinia.
Petter Solberg’s career at a glimpse
Date/place of birth: 18 November 1974 in Askim (N)
2003: 1st place FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
2002, 2004 and 2005: 2nd place FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
2010: 3rd place FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
2014, 2015: 1st place FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX)
WRC statistics: 188 rallies, 52 podium finishes (13 wins), 459 stage wins, 852 championship points
Volkswagen in customer racing
Eric Camilli at the wheel of the Polo GTI R5 for rally debut.
The first driver duo has been confirmed for the debut of the GTI R5 – Volkswagen will compete at the Rally Spain (25th–28th October) with Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (F/F). The 200 kW (272 PS) 4x4 will celebrate its rally debut at the only FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) race to take place on asphalt as well as gravel. This is the sole works appearance scheduled for the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, before it begins to participate in domestic and international championships for customers.
When deciding on the driver line-up for the first of two cockpits for the Rally Spain, Volkswagen chose to rely on familiar resources. The Camilli/Veillas duo played a significant role in the development of the rally car, based on the new Polo, and the two drivers are held in high esteem by the four-time world championship-winning team thanks to their detailed feedback and analytical approach. Camilli/Veillas are no unknown quantity in the WRC 2 category, where the Polo GTI R5 will be competing in Spain: they were runners-up in the 2017 world championship with three podium finishes, including victory at the Rally Germany. In total, Camilli/Veillas have chalked up 31 stage wins in this category.
“Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas are an experienced team and did a valuable job during testing with the Polo GTI R5,” says 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/co-driver line-up for the second Polo GTI R5 will be announced at a later date.
Eric Camilli: “When Sven Smeets and R5 project lead Jan de Jongh gave me the good news, it was a lovely, belated birthday present. I was delighted and am proud to be part of the team at this important 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 the Rally Spain and hopefully we will be able to start the R5 Polo on its career path with a good result.”
Eric Camilli and the Polo – a long history
The intensive testing and the upcoming debut with the Polo GTI R5 do not represent Eric Camilli's first meeting with the compact car. The Volkswagen Polo played an important role in the private life of the 31-year-old from an early stage. “My second car was a Polo. A used 2005 Polo IV Trendline with 64 PS, in silver,” explains Camilli. “Volkswagens are such reliable cars. And I like the design.” Camilli/Veillas drove around one third of the approx. 10,000 test kilometres with the Polo GTI R5. “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 the Rally Spain and the first head-to-head comparison with the very strong competition.”
Benjamin Veillas – return to the four-time world championship-winning team
The Rally Spain marks the return of co-driver Benjamin Veillas to the four-time world championship-winning team from Volkswagen. In the WRC era, the 40-year-old Frenchman was part of the spotter and weather crew for world champion Sébastien Ogier. Veillas has formed a team with Camilli since the Rally France on Corsica in 2014, celebrating six podiums in the WRC 2 category and one best stage time in the WRC top category thus far.
After the works debut: eight customer teams will receive 15 Polo GTI R5s
Customers, over to you: the competitive debut at the Rally Spain will be the first and only competitive appearance for the Polo GTI R5 before delivery of the customer sport racer begins at the Volkswagen Motorsport location in Hanover, from November onwards. In 2018/2019, 15 cars will be handed over to eight customer teams, who are planning to compete in numerous international and domestic rally championships according to R5 regulations.
Career in fast-forward – that’s Eric Camilli
Date/place of birth: 06 September 1987 in Nice (F)
Hobbies: Sport, especially running and trials
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
FIA World Rally Championship
Volkswagen Motorsport presents Polo GTI R5 to first customers.
After the Polo R WRC comes the Polo GTI R5. With the World Rally Car version of the Polo, the Volkswagen works team won four FIA World Rally Championship titles between 2013 and 2016. The production-based successor model was developed according to category R5 regulations and is intended exclusively for customer racing. Volkswagen Motorsport has already sold 15 models of the Polo GTI R5 to customers in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Paraguay, Portugal and Sweden.
Volkswagen Motorsport presented the new rally car to customers shortly before homologation. Representatives of the privateer teams visited the headquarters in Hannover, where they experienced the 200 kW (272 PS) four-wheel drive together with test driver Dieter Depping (D) at a test centre in nearby Sulingen. “The Polo GTI R5 has completed around 9,000 test kilometres to date, half of which were on gravel and half on asphalt,” explained Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “The entire development team has worked hard and delivered a first-class result, which has been confirmed by the initial reactions of customers.”
“The feedback from this introductory session was extremely positive,” added Juliane Gründl, head of sales at Volkswagen Motorsport. “Almost all the teams already have definite plans in place for using the car in the 2019 rally season and cannot wait to get their hands on their Polo GTI R5.”
Competitive debut at WRC event in Spain at the end of October
The homologation of the Polo GTI R5 is planned for 01 October 2018. Before being licensed for motorsport, the Polo GTI R5 will have completed around 10,000 test kilometres in total. In addition to the WRC2 category of the FIA World Rally Championship, the new customer racing rally car will also be in action in interregional championships such as the FIA European Rally Championship and numerous national championships.
“When defining the specification, we took great care to ensure that it would be easy for professional privateer teams to master the technical support of the Polo GTI R5,” said Jan-Gerard de Jongh, technical project manager for the Polo GTI R5 and former race engineer of World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier.
Before the first customer cars are delivered, further test drives and the competitive debut are scheduled. At the Rally Spain from 25 to 28 October 2018, the Polo R5 GTI will take on its rivals in the WRC2 class at world championship level for the first time. And for the Volkswagen Motorsport team, it will be a mini comeback after the final race in Australia 2016, since Volkswagen Motorsport will be taking care of the car at the debut. “We will compete at the Rally Spain with two cars from our own team,” said Smeets. “The aim is to demonstrate the competitiveness of the new Polo GTI R5 at the highest level and on different surfaces.”
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
Competitive debut in Spain.
The ideal rally, at which to make a debut: Volkswagen will make its first competitive outing with the Polo GTI R5 at the Rally Spain (25 to 28 October 2018). The 200-kW (272-PS) car for customers competing in rallies around the world – such as those in the WRC 2 category, the European Rally Championship and national championships – will be given a baptism of fire at the most diverse rally in the FIA World Rally Championship. The event in Catalonia is held on both asphalt and gravel, with the teams given just 75 minutes to completely convert the chassis and many other components. For Volkswagen, the Rally Spain also represents the perfect event from another perspective: The manufacturer went undefeated on each of the four occasions that the Polo R WRC took to the route here in the top echelon of the World Rally Championship, and it was here that the brand claimed its first title in the Manufacturers’ Championship in 2013.
“The Rally Spain is a very happy stomping ground for us,” said Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. “We celebrated our first world championship title here. You simply don’t forget moments like that. With its varying surfaces, the Rally Spain is obviously also excellently suited to a first really tough test under competitive conditions.”
Dawn of a new era in rallying: The Polo GTI R5 for customer sport
Volkswagen achieved an awful lot in just four years in the World Rally Championship – 12 titles, 43 of a possible 52 race wins, and 640 stage wins. With the Polo GTI R5, Volkswagen is now embarking on a new chapter in rallying, with the goal being to add to that successful record – in customer sport. As such, Spain has been carefully selected for the debut. It gives the engineers a little more time to ensure the car is fully and optimally developed. Originally planned for late summer, the homologation has now been put back by a few weeks to 01 October 2018. “The tests have gone well. The drivers who have tested the Polo GTI R5 have given very positive feedback,” says Smeets. “Despite this, we still want to change a few things before the car is finally homologated.”
Gerard Jan de Jongh, Technical Project Lead Polo GTI R5 and world champion Sébastien Ogier’s former race engineer, adds: “A customer car must almost be developed even more thoroughly than a World Rally Car for a works team. Once the car has been successfully homologated, a customer often does not have the opportunity to make any changes or test the car thoroughly. For this reason, we are taking the time to ensure that we supply our customers with a fully-developed and fast Polo GTI R5 in October.”
Get close to the 2015 World Rally Champion.
Five overall victories and a world championship title – the Polo R WRC with chassis number 25 was the key to success in the 2015 World Rally Championship for Volkswagen factory driver Sébastien Ogier. The Autostadt in Wolfsburg is showcasing the winning car until early May on the ground floor of the ZeitHaus museum.
The car on display is a loan from Volkswagen Motorsport. It competed in twelve FIA World Rally Championship events in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Sébastien Ogier won five of these races – including the legendary Monte Carlo Rally – with this World Rally Car in 2015 and celebrated his third consecutive world title.
Together with co-driver Julien Ingrassia, the Frenchman also scored important points for the prestigious Manufacturer's Championship title for Volkswagen. The 2016 season finale in Wales was the last rally for the Polo R WRC with chassis number 25.
Volkswagen dominated the World Rally Championship from 2013 to 2016. Together with three outstanding driver teams, the redeveloped Polo R WRC laid the foundation for success and 43 overall victories for the Volkswagen Motorsport team. The company's WRC involvement spawned four World Championship titles each in the driver, co-driver, and manufacturer's categories.
During the Polo R WRC development phase from 2011 to 2013, Volkswagen engineers were supported by Dakar winner Carlos Sainz and German Rally Champion Dieter Depping. With 621 best times in 935 special stages, the Volkswagen Polo R WRC is still regarded as the best rally car in WRC history.
Visit the Autostadt website.
2018 Rally Sweden
Petter Solberg thrills fans at Swedish rally classic.
Petter Solberg (N) took victory at the Rally Sweden in class 9 of the competition for vintage rally cars. Solberg was driving alongside his wife Pernilla, who served as co-driver to the 2003 world rally champion. The husband and wife team finished second overall out of the historic cars on the Swedish stages. Solberg had swapped his Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar, with which he usually starts in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX), for a vintage Ford Escort in Sweden. “We had a fun weekend,” said the 2014 and 2015 WRX champion. “We are happy with the result, and it was fantastic to see all the fans out on the stages.”
Solberg’s PSRX team-mate Johan Kristoffersson (S) was also in action in Sweden. The reigning world Rallycross champion with Volkswagen finished sixth in the WRC2 class in a Skoda Fabia R5. “I am really happy with our weekend,” said Kristoffersson. “I did not intend to fight for positions. The main goal was to finish the rally and to develop my skills for the WRX joker laps. Finishing sixth in our class with two stage wins is fantastic.”
More information: www.wrc.com
2018 Rally Sweden
Kristoffersson and Solberg start the classic rally event in Sweden.
Johan Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg will line up at this year's Rally Sweden (15-18 February). Freshly-crowned WRX champion Kristoffersson will swap his 570-hp Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar, with which he won the title in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX) in November, for a Skoda Fabia R5. "Changes to the timing of our preparations for the new rallycross season with Volkswagen have made it possible to start in Sweden," says Kristoffersson. "I am already really looking forward to the event, as it is always helpful to be in race mode as often as possible." This is the 29-year-old's second start at the Rally Sweden. In 2016, he finished eleventh in the WRC2 class.
Meanwhile, Solberg will start alongside his wife Pernilla in a Ford Escort RS1800 in the class for vintage cars. In 2013 and 2015, Solberg dominated the historic Rally Sweden. This year, the 2003 world rally champion is expecting a bigger challenge. "Last time we beat a few Audi Quattros," says Solberg. "This year, there will be far more four-wheel drive cars in action. As such, we are now focussing on the opposition with two-wheel drive."
Polo R5 GTI
GTI meets “Monte”: New rally Polo makes guest appearance in Monaco.
Flying visit for the Polo GTI R5: The new rally car for customer sports was on display during the driving event for the new Volkswagen up! GTI* in Monte Carlo (MC). The Polo GTI R5 was exhibited in a particularly prominent location in the Mediterranean principality: in the world famous “Rascasse” corner of the Grand Prix circuit. The Rally Monte Carlo (26–28 January) was also held this weekend, making it the perfect opportunity for the new racer to strut its stuff in front of an expert audience. The Polo GTI R5 itself could well go in search of world championship points for the first time at the iconic “Monte” in January 2019.
* up! GTI 1.0 TSI, 85 kW / fuel consumption in l/100 km (WLTP): combined 5.7–5.6; CO2 emissions in g/km: 129–127 (combined). Fuel consumption in l/100 km (NEFZ): urban 6.0/extra-urban 4.1/combined 4.8; CO2 emissions in g/km: 110 (combined), efficiency class: C.
Volkswagen in Customer Sports
World rally champions test the Polo GTI R5 in Sweden.
Ice test passed: The new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 has been successfully put through its paces in Sweden – by three world rally champions, no less. Petter Solberg, 2003 WRC champion, was joined at the wheel of the four-wheel drive rally car for customer sports by 2000 and 2002 world champion Marcus Grönholm, and Pontus Tidemand, junior world champion in 2013 and WRC2 champion in 2017. The four-day test took place near the Swedish town of Kall. With temperatures as low as minus 15 degrees Celsius and an icy surface with many snow banks along the four-kilometre section of route, the conditions were ideal to give the 272-hp Polo GTI R5 a really stern test, during which it demonstrated its excellent reliability.
“It was just fantastic to be back behind the wheel of a rally car again and to help out the Volkswagen family,” said Solberg, who competes in the FIA World Rallycross Championship with his PSRX Volkswagen Team Sweden. “It was a really fun day. The team has done such a great job and the car is fantastic to drive. I didn’t want to get out at the end of the day. We covered almost 300 kilometres in one day – very different to what I’m used to in the World Rallycross Championship. I used my years of rallying experience to work with the engineers on small changes to the car. Big thanks to all the team for their work, and to Veronica Engan for stepping into the co-driver’s seat.”
Volkswagen in Customer Sports
All over the world: First customers confirmed for the new Polo GTI R5.
The anticipation is half the fun: Shortly before the start of the 2018 rally season, Volkswagen has now provided the first 15 customers with information on the delivery of their new Polo GTI R5*. Development of the four-wheel drive rally car for the customer sports scene, which is based on the new sixth generation Polo, began at the start of last year, and the new car was presented to the public for the first time in December. Demand for the new rally Polo is great – not least because the Polo GTI R5 incorporates all the know-how of its predecessor, which won four world titles in the pinnacle of rallying, the WRC.
“We are overwhelmed by the positive feedback on the Polo GTI R5,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “The customer demand is enormous. We are obviously pleased about this, and it is an additional motivation to provide the teams with the best possible rally car.”
No distance is too great: Roughly 11,000 kilometres as the crow flies to reach the customer
15 of the 272-hp Polo GTI R5 are set to be delivered to the first customers in the second half of this year. Three cars will be sent to Austria and the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing GmbH team run by Austria rally champion Raimund Baumschlager, who won the 2017 Austrian Rally Championship with a Polo R WRC. Three cars have also been sold to teams from Belgium: two to BMA and one Polo GTI R5 to THX Racing.
Two Polo GTI R5s will be on their way to the Printsport Oy team in the home of rallying, Finland. Printsport has succesfully implemented projects with young and talented drivers like Esapekka Lappi, Ole Christian Veiby and Jari Huttunen. They currently have Lukasz Pieniazek from Poland and Emil Lindholm, son of multiple Finnish champion Sebastian Lindholm, in their team. A further two Polo GTI R5s will be run by the HK Racing team in Italy. One rally GTI will also be sent to Portugal. And a GTI R5 has also been sold to Sweden and Kristoffersson Motorsport.
The longest journey – almost 11,000 kilometres as the crow flies – will be undertaken by three Polo GTI R5s, as they are shipped to the South American country of Paraguay. Miguel Carrizosa/DIESA S.A., a Volkswagen importer in Paraguay, will run the cars at national events there.
“We assemble each car by hand in our workshop in Hannover,” said Juliane Gründl, head of sales and distribution at Volkswagen Motorsport. “We are on schedule. However, we are still in the process of structuring production, and in the implementation phase in the aftersales area. We obviously want to be ideally positioned in time for the sales launch.”
Autosport Sport International
Polo GTI R5 makes its first public appearance at the Autosport Show.
Following the successful international debut of the new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 in Mallorca (E) at the start of December, the four-wheel drive rally car for Volkswagen’s customer teams has now made its first public appearance. Motorsport enthusiasts were able to check out the 272-hp Polo GTI R5, which is based on the sixth generation of Polo, at close hand at the Autosport Show International in Birmingham (GB). The development of the Rally Polo, which has been in full swing since the start of 2017, has incorporated all the experience and know-how acquired by during the successful period in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), which saw Volkswagen win four world titles between 2013 and 2016.
Following the first successful tests on asphalt and gravel last November and December, more tests are now planned, in order to be able to deliver the Polo GTI R5 to the first customer sport teams in time for its first rally outings in the second half of this year.
More information: www.autosportinternational.com
Volkswagen in Customer Sports
The rally sports car: World premiere of the new Polo GTI R5.
The stage is set for the rally GTI: The Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 enjoyed a successful world premiere. The four-wheel drive rally car for customer sports, which is based on the sixth and latest generation of the new Polo, was introduced to the public for the first time at the official driving presentation of the Polo GTI in Mallorca on Monday evening. The development of the new rally sports car incorporated the experience and know-how acquired whilst winning four world titles in the pinnacle of rallying, the WRC, from 2013 to 2016.
“Presenting the new Polo GTI R5 to the public was a magnificent moment,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “The close relationship to the road-going Polo GTI is unmistakable. In the rally Polo, the GTI family has another spectacular ambassador. Our team and the colleagues at Volkswagen Design in Wolfsburg deserve great credit for this. Over the coming months, the Polo GTI R5 must prove itself in a series of tough scenarios, in order to ensure that it can build on the success of its predecessor in the customers’ hands.”
Initial tests successful
Development of the Polo GTI R5 has been in full swing since the start of the year. Initial tests on asphalt and gravel took place in mid-November in Fontjoncouse, France, and will continue in Great Britain in December. Responsibility for the entire project lies with Technical Director François-Xavier “FX” Demaison, as well as Project Manager Jan de Jongh, who, as race engineer, looked after world champion Sébastien Ogier’s Polo R WRC from 2013 to 2016.
“The Polo GTI R5 came through the initial tests without any problems. The feedback from the test drivers was very positive,” says Demaison. “It is obviously beneficial to be able to call upon an experienced team of engineers and mechanics, who helped to develop the Polo that won the world championship. And it goes without saying that, as we have in the past, we are also taking advantage of the close and excellent cooperation with the colleagues in the technical development department in Wolfsburg, as well as our Škoda colleagues, who have been offering their customers an R5 car since 2015.”
As in the GTI for the streets: four-cylinder turbo engine with direct fuel injection
Like the production model – the new Polo GTI – the Polo GTI R5 has a powerful straight four-cylinder turbo engine with direct fuel injection, which is mounted transversely in front of the front axle. The capacity of the rally car is limited to 1.6 litres, in accordance with regulations. This is sufficient to generate an impressive 200 kW (272 hp) and maximum torque of 400 Newton metres. A close-stepped, sequential, five-speed racing gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive achieve outstanding acceleration on any surface – whether asphalt, gravel or snow. Weighing just 1,230 kilograms, the rally GTI accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds.
The four-door, steel chassis, which serves as the basis for the assembly, is manufactured at the production plant in Pamplona, Spain. In accordance with FIA regulations, it is strengthened with a role cage and other safety components. The first deliveries to customer sports teams, and the first competitive outings, are planned for the second half of the year.
In 2012, the International Automobile Federation FIA passed the R5 regulations for a new generation of rally cars, aimed primarily at customer teams, talented youngsters and privateers. Since then, more than 400 cars have been produced by five different manufacturers and have been in action in national and international championships all over the world.
Rally car for customer racing
Successful first test outing for the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
First tough test passed: The Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 has successfully completed its first test kilometres in Fontjoncouse, France. Volkswagen test driver Dieter Depping and Swedish WRC2 champion Pontus Tidemand spent three days testing the new 270-hp rally car for customer racing, which is based on the sixth and latest generation of the production Polo, in demanding conditions.
“A successful first test is a good sign and great motivation,” said a satisfied Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets. “After the many hours and weeks spent working on our latest customer racing project on the computer, in the design process and in the workshop, the Polo GTI R5 can now finally show what it is capable of out on the road, and we can gain valuable data for the further development of the car.”
First up on a 3.85-kilometre asphalt route, in dry conditions and with the temperature hovering around ten degrees Celsius, was work on the set-up. With the route alternating between fast and winding sections, the durability of the tyres, brakes, engine and cooling system were tested. The following two days were spent on stony surfaces: The four-wheel drive Polo GTI R5 successfully mastered the rough gravel routes, which put a huge amount of strain on the chassis, dampers and suspension. The venue for the tests was familiar territory for the Polo: It was here in 2011 that Volkswagen carried out the first test on the Polo R WRC, which went on to win the World Rally Championship four times in a row between 2013 and 2016. Dieter Depping was also at the wheel of the test car back then.
“It is a special feeling to be back here, where the Polo embarked on its first rally adventure roughly six years ago,” said Volkswagen test driver Depping. “It is now about achieving the best possible set-up for the new Polo GTI R5. This first test was primarily about getting a lot of kilometres under our belt, in order to give the engineers as much data as possible. I can tell you one thing now: The R5 Polo is also very good, very quick and precise. I immediately felt right at home!”
Volkswagen is expanding its customer racing programme with the new Polo GTI R5, and is offering the new rally car to professional teams and drivers eligible to compete in national and global championships, as well as the WRC2 category of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), from the second half of 2018.
Austrian Rally Championship
Baumschlager sets new world record in the Polo R WRC.
Raimund Baumschlager (A) has won the Austrian Rally Championship. The 57-year-old won the Rally Waldviertel (A) at the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC to claim his 14th title in the national championship. In doing so, Baumschlager set a new world record: no driver in the world has ever won 14 national champion titles.
The final round of the ORM could hardly have been more exciting: the Austrian, together with co-driver Primin Winklhofer (A) trailed defending champion Herrmann Neubauer (A/Ford) by 0.8 seconds going into the 14th and final special stage. This would have made Baumschlager the runner-up in the championship. However, the man from Salzburg went for broke in his Polo on the final stage, beating Neubauer by 5.4 seconds to win the title by four points.
The experienced Austrian was understandably delighted: “Given the way that the championship and, above all, the finale panned out, I have to say that this is my nicest title. Also because it will most probably be my last national title.” Victory at the Rally Waldviertel was Baumschlager’s third of the season, having previously won the Rebenland Rally and the Škoda Rally Liezen.
More information: www.brr.at
FIA World Rally Championship
Volkswagen gives sneak preview of new Polo GTI R5.
The GTI for rallying: With the Polo GTI R5, Volkswagen returns to rallying under a new guise. In the second half of 2018, Volkswagen will make the 270 hp rally version of the Polo available to professional teams and aspiring drivers to enable them to compete in championships across the globe – including the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). A sketch of the car, which is based on the new Polo of the sixth generation, gives a foretaste of what’s to come.
“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,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “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.”
The development of the Polo GTI R5 has been in full swing since the start of the year, with initial test drives planned for this year. The experience gained from the successful WRC era is being incorporated directly: Volkswagen Motorsport Technical Director François-Xavier “FX” Demaison, father of the record winning Polo R WRC, is responsible for the development of the Polo GTI R5. And Gerard-Jan de Jongh also brings all his expertise as the senior project engineer. The Dutchman was previously Sébastien Ogier’s race engineer; Ogier won the drivers’ title with Volkswagen four times in a row.
Like the production model – which is due to be launched at the end of this year – the Polo GTI R5 has a powerful four-cylinder turbo engine with direct fuel injection. Other features include four-wheel drive, a sequential five-speed racing transmission and a comprehensive safety package, which are the most important features of the R5 category brought into being by the international automobile association, the FIA, in 2012. This gives privateers, teams and importers the opportunity to contest national, regional and international championships with cost-effective, powerful rally cars.
For Volkswagen Motorsport, the Polo GTI R5 represents another important milestone in their strategic realignment: After the successful introduction of the Golf GTI TCR, which has brought home wins and titles in numerous championships on the circuit since 2016, Volkswagen Motorsport is expanding its involvement in customer racing to rallying.
Ogier and the Polo R WRC thrill fans.
Sébastien Ogier (F), who won the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) four times with Volkswagen, was back in the Polo R WRC for the first time this weekend. The occasion was the Rallylegend in San Marino – the annual get-together for legendary rally drivers and cars. This year’s event was held in memory of world rally champion Colin McRae, who died in 2007, and consequently featured a particularly impressive line-up. The invitations were sent out by world championship winning co-driver Luis Moya (E). As well as Ogier, rally champions Sébastien Loeb (F), Juha Kankkunen (FIN), Ari Vatanen (FIN), Stig Blomqvist (S), Petter Solberg (N), Didier Auriol (F), Miki Biasion (I) and Marcus Grönholm (FIN) also attended the event and presented their iconic rally cars in a parade in front of roughly 70,000 delighted fans. McRae’s parents, brother and daughter also visited the Rallylegend.
“Unfortunately, I was not part of the generation that got to know Colin McRae personally,” said Ogier, who stayed behind to sign autographs after his short drive. “He was an icon and, for me, a real inspiration to become a rally driver. It is really an honour for me to be here. Plus, it was nice to be back in my world championship winning Polo again after such a long time.”
Austrian Rally Championship
First win for Baumschlager in the Polo R WRC.
Raimund Baumschlager (A) and his co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (D) earned the Volkswagen Polo R WRC its first victory in the Austrian Rally Championship. The duo won the Rally Liezen in the 350-hp four-wheel drive powerhouse from Wolfsburg, ahead of Andreas Aigner/Ilka Minor (A/A, Škoda). With eight stage wins out of 13, Baumschlager/Winklhofer once again demonstrated the great potential of the 2016 world championship-winning Polo. The championship leaders – Hermann Neubauer/Bernhard Ettel (A/A, Ford) – ended the rally in fourth place, following a puncture. As such, Baumschlager and Winklhofer go into the season finale just two points behind Neubauer and Ettel.
More information: www.rallye-oem.at
Austrian Rally Championship
Second place for Baumschlager at the Rally Weiz in the Polo R WRC.
Raimund Baumschlager (A) and his co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (D) have secured second place in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC at the Rally Weiz. The two Volkswagen drivers had to hang on at the end to claim the podium finish in the fifth race of the Austrian Rally Championship: They had some difficulties with the brakes on the 13th of 14 special stages. There was no way to fix the issue before the final special stage, meaning that Baumschlager had to drive the final 9.8 kilometres with just the front brake. He did not lose his grip on second place.
Baumschlager and Winklhofer had already proved how well the 318 hp 2016 Polo can perform – they recorded four stage best times and were involved in a tight battle for the lead with eventual winners Hermann Neubauer/Bernhard Ettel (A/A, Ford). Baumschlager is now in third place in the championship, with 67 points. He is 14 points behind overall leader Neubauer.
Raimund Baumschlager (A), Volkswagen Polo R WRC
“The braking circuit on the rear axle was knocked out at the start of special stage 13, probably by a stone. I heard a loud bang and considered stopping, but I was able to battle on with just the front brake axle. I had to hang on and I was praying that we would be able to finish the rally. I am more than happy with the result.”
More information: www.rallye-weiz.at
Austrian Rally Championship
Baumschlager retires in the Polo R WRC after accident.
Minor cause, major effect: Raimund Baumschlager (A) retired early from the Schneebergland Rally, the fourth event of the Austrian Rally Championship, after an accident. An error in the pace notes saw his Volkswagen Polo R WRC come off the track at high speed and overturn on the second of a total of eight special stages. Baumschlager and his co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (D) remained unscathed. The win went to Niki Mayr-Melnhof/Poldi Welsersheimb (A/A, Ford).
Austrian Rally Championship
Baumschlager runner-up in the Polo R WRC.
Raimund Baumschlager (A) finished runner-up in the Wechselland Rally, which forms part of the Austrian Rally Championship. This was the first time the car from Wolfsburg, with which Sébastien Ogier (F) won his fourth WRC title last season, had seen competitive action since Volkswagen Motorsport’s withdrawal from the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Baumschlager won four of the 15 special stages in extremely difficult conditions.
This was a more than respectable achievement for Baumschlager and co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (D), who had only completed a few test kilometres with the 2016 Polo R WRC prior to the event. “It was brutally tough, as the weather threw absolutely everything at us. From rain and fog to snow. Given the circumstances, I am more than happy with second place,” said Baumschlager, who finished just 8.7 seconds behind winner Hermann Neubauer (A). Volkswagen Motorsport supported the use of the Polo R WRC by the Baumschlager Rallye and Racing Team as part of its customer racing programme.
Austrian Rally Championship
Baumschlager to drive the Polo R WRC.
The world championship-winning car is back: the Volkswagen Polo R WRC will return to action at the Wechselland Rally (28/29 April), which forms part of the Austrian Rally Championship. Raimund Baumschlager (A), competing for the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team, will be the first private driver in the world to drive the successful car from Wolfsburg, with which Sébastien Ogier (F) claimed his fourth title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) last season.
“I am incredibly proud to be allowed to drive the Polo R WRC. It is a great honour for me, and I can hardly put my excitement into words,” said Baumschlager, who will have co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (A) at his side. As a customer, Baumschlager will receive support from Volkswagen Motorsport at his outings in the Polo R WRC. For example, engineer Gerard-Jan de Jongh, who was part of world champion Ogier’s successful crew during his time at Volkswagen, will assist Baumschlager.