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, homologation planned for late summer 2018
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 Polo GTI R5 will be homologated in the summer of 2018. 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.
Successful first test outing for the 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.
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.”
Comeback of the mountaineers.
New challenge in motorsport with the technology of tomorrow: Volkswagen is developing an all-electric race car for the world’s most renowned mountain race. The all-wheel drive prototype is scheduled to be at the start of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, USA on 24 June 2018. Its goal: to set a new record for electric cars at the finish line which is at 4,300 metres elevation. The new motorsport project is part of Volkswagen’s process of transforming itself into the leading producer of electric vehicles. By 2025, the Volkswagen brand will already be offering 23 all-electric models.
"The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore excellently suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies," explains Dr Frank Welsch, Member of the Board responsible for Development.
"Our electric race car will be equipped with innovative battery and drive technology. The extreme stress test on Pikes Peak will give us important findings that will benefit future development, and it will showcase our products and their technologies."
The vehicle is being developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in close cooperation with Technical Development in Wolfsburg. "The race on Pikes Peak is a new beginning for us. We are developing an all-electric race vehicle for the first time," explains Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. "The project is also an important milestone in our new motorsport orientation. Our team is literally electrified about taking on this incredible challenge." Volkswagen Motorsport last participated in the Pikes Peak mountain race in 1987 with a spectacular twin-engined Golf which barely missed finishing. "It is high time for a rematch," continues Smeets.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – which insiders also call the ‘Race to the clouds’ – has been run since 1916 in the Rocky Mountains near Colorado Springs. The race course is 19.99 kilometres long, and it climbs 1,440 metres to the summit at 4,300 metres above sea level. The current record in the class of electric prototypes is 8 minutes 57.118 seconds, which was set by the New Zealander Rhys Millen in 2016.
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
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
Baumschlager to start the Rally Weiz in the Polo R WRC.
Raimund Baumschlager (A) will line up at the Rally Weiz in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC this weekend (21-22 July). For Baumschlager and his co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (D), the outing in the Styria region is the third in the Austrian Rally Championship with the 318-hp 2016 Polo – the car, with which Sébastien Ogier (F) won his fourth title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) last season. After finishing runner-up at the Wechselland Rally and retiring following a crash at the recent Schneebergland Rally, Baumschlager and Winklhofer will now take on 178.16 kilometres spread over 14 special stages at the Rally Weiz. Volkswagen Motorsport support the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team run the Polo R WRC as part of its customer racing programme.
More information: www.rallye-weiz.at
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).
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.
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.