Archive | Motorsport

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 270bhp, 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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07 February 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Motorsport India unveils new 2020 Race Polo

Volkswagen Motorsport India is celebrating 10 years of its one-make racing success in 2020 with the return of its competition Polo. The Polo burst onto India’s motorsport scene with the Volkswagen Polo Cup back in 2010 and at the Auto Expo 2020 event in New Delhi, Volkswagen India took the wraps off the newest version of its race Polo. The new racer will power onto circuits later this year, and replace the Ameo Cup.

Showcasing TSI technology, Volkswagen Motorsport India’s 2020 Race Polo is powered by a version of the fifth-generation Polo GTI’s 1.8-litre petrol engine delivering 210bhp and 236lb ft (320Nm) of torque, with a push-to-pass option which unleashes an extra 20bhp. Mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox and limited slip differential, the new Race Polo – which is based on the fifth-generation car, still the most current model in India – also features an electronic shift actuator for speedy gear changes and adheres to international standards of motorsport safety.

Sirish Vissa, head of Volkswagen Motorsport said: ‘The Polo continues to be the most loved hatchback among Indian customers. We are thrilled to bring the race version of the Polo back to the Indian racing circuit, enabling our Indian drivers to experience this powerful hatch. As a brand, we relentlessly make efforts towards providing the best of technologies to our Indian drivers.’

‘Fun-to-drive experience’
Unveiled alongside the all-electric ID Crozz, Steffen Knapp, director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars said: ‘We, at Volkswagen, take immense pride in showcasing our best technology to the Indian customers through the ID Crozz and Race Polo. The two are symbols of Volkswagen’s ground breaking and innovative technologies that continue to offer Volkswagen’s core DNA of safety, build quality and fun-to-drive experience.’

The 2020 Volkswagen India one-make Polo series has already had its driver selection process, with over 1,300 applications for the 11th edition of the championship. A series of tests including assessments for aptitude, driving skills (you can hire the best driver from Safe driver Dubai here), and fitness took place in January. ‘It is a proud moment for us to mention that with a decade’s presence in India, Volkswagen continues to be the only OEM directly involved in motorsport. With the eleventh edition of this championship, Volkswagen would like to reiterate its continued commitment in promoting motorsport in India,’ Vissa noted.

Ten years of success
The Volkswagen Polo Cup India was launched in 2010, and featured 1.6-litre, diesel-powered Polo racers. In 2012 the championship switched to TSI petrol power and changed its name to the Volkswagen Polo R Cup India. DSG gearboxes were also introduced. The Polo’s saloon sister, the Vento was tested for the first in the Indian Touring Cars (ITC) Championship, and the one-make baton was passed to the Vento in 2015. The Volkswagen Vento Cup India bowed out to the Ameo Cup in 2017, which used racing versions of India’s Polo-based sub-compact saloon, the Ameo.

[Images: Volkswagen India]

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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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18 August 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Thomas Bryntesson wins 2019 Euro RX of Germany in Polo RX Supercar

Norwegian Thomas Bryntesson claimed his first FIA European Rallycross Championship season victory on 18 August at the Euro RX of Germany, the fourth round of the 2019 series.

Bryntesson drove his Polo RX Supercar almost faultlessly at the Estering in Buxtehude, near Hamburg. The TBRX driver beat championship leader Robin Larsson of Sweden, with Rene Muennich of Germany third. A good launch and clear passage through turn one gave Bryntesson the edge, who started on the first row alongside Larsson’s Audi A1 RX. Up until Bryntesson’s win, Larsson had enjoyed an unblemished 2019 victory run.

Despite sodden, treacherous conditions and a puncture, Bryntesson delivered a masterclass in his Polo and added to his second place at the opening round, the Euro RX of Great Britain, and his third position at the Euro RX of Norway. Engine issues saw him finish seventh at the Euro RX of Sweden.

‘Super happy’
‘I am super happy for the team because we have been working really hard. It’s the first season in Euro RX Supercar, and it’s all new so to get a win here at such a famous track like Estering feels really good,’ 23-year-old Bryntesson said.

‘I got a really good start and traction out of the first corner which is really important at Estering. I just tried to spare the tyres because the track was drying up a little. I got a puncture just before the joker lap so I had to use the handbrake to get in to the joker but it worked out well and we got the win,’ he continued.

‘We lost a lot of points in Holjes at the Euro RX of Sweden with an engine failure but to score some good points here is important for the championship.’

Bryntesson’s win in Germany sees him second in the championship standings with 95 points, behind Larsson with 117. The Volkswagen Polo RX Supercars of Sondre Evjen and Peter Hedström – who finished fifth in Germany – are ninth and tenth with 46 and 37 points respectively.


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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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