Volkswagen unveiled today the Polo R WRC! That’s right folks, this is the official ticket to Volkswagen’s entry in the World Rally Championship which will take place in 2013! Dubbed ‘the hottest Polo of all time’, the Polor R WRC will be powered by a 1.6-litre TSI engine delivering almost 300 hp and will also feature all-wheel drive.
For those who don’t know, the most important performance of Volkswagen in the WRC is noted back in 1986 in the Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V driven by Swede Kenneth Eriksson and his German co-driver Peter Diekmann.
The two drivers claimed the world champion’s title in the newly incepted Group A. What is really interesting is that today’s WRC vehicles are still based on the philosophy of the Group A introduced back then.
Luca de Meo, Head of Marketing of Volkswagen AG: “Almost exactly two years ago, in May 2009, the most recent model of the Polo was presented here in Sardinia. Today we are proud to show you the hottest Polo of all time – the Polo R WRC.”
For Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen and his team the World Rally Championship entry marks a new commitment. “We look forward to this new challenge and are working on this project with the same passion with which we won the Dakar Rally in the past three years,” said Kris Nissen.
For race aficionados, enthusiasts and lovers of one of racing’s greatest adventures, the World Rally Championship is easily the most diverse technological challenge there is. Engineers, designers and manufacturers have to consider a variety of intensely different, dangerous types of ground their racing team will have to traverse and at great speed. For example gravel, ice, scree, tarmac, snow and mud are some of the conditions the vehicle has to be able to handle well.
This year's racing calendar features 13 WRC rounds across four continents, whether that is the scorching heat and sands of South America to the icy winds and roads of Scandinavia. Each world rally car has to function in extremely harsh conditions. This year, new regulations have taken effect in the WRC. Direct injection and turbochargers are required for engines with a maximum displacement of 1,600 cc.
Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, a Member of the Management Board for the Volkswagen brands, Development Division said that the new technical regulations are an “ideal fit” for the brand’s philosophy when it comes to the development of production vehicles. He further said that its customers prioritize “downsizing, high efficiency and reliability.”
With plans of building the Polo R WRC at its factories, its Wolfsburg team will have to build upon the framework they have been developing for the last few years. The squad freely admits that it is an ambitious aim for them but with having won the Dakar Rally in the last three years, the squad feels that it can draw on its experiences and their successes in this sport.
Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director, went on to say even as the WRC is new territory and the team will have to learn so much more from various areas, it has the “important prerequisites” such as its professionalism and its determination to follow through on its commitment.
There can be few who would doubt Volkswagens claims as it is clear from past events that the brand maintains a small yet very impressive rally tradition. It was in the 1980s when production-based vehicles rolling out of Wolfsburg started to bring home trophies. The most important success was in 1986 when Swede Kenneth Eriksson and his German co-driver Peter Diekmann claimed the world champion's title in the Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V in the newly created Group A.
It is not just winning races Volkswagen has been involved in they are also behind the promotion of young rally talent in the Golf Rally Cup. But through it all, the fielding of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC from 2013 continues the brand’s original goal, one that is based on the philosophy of Group A, which enables rally sport to be raced and won using vehicles based on production models.