30 June 2024 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Polo makes World RX comeback with Kristoffersson Motorsport

In addition to being a successful circuit racer and rally car, the Volkswagen Polo has been a rallycross star, too. It has dipped out of the FIA World Rallycross (World RX) series in recent seasons due to the championship’s switch to electric-powered vehicles (although the Volkswagen RX1e was in all intents and purposes a Polo, at least certainly in silhouette). However, the VW is back to mix it on the mixed surface racetracks in 2024, as six-time World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson switches back to a combustion-engined car in his chase for a seventh career crown

Running on sustainable fuel, the (deep breath) 2024 Volkswagen Polo KMS 601 RX is the result of a partnership between Kristoffersson Motorsport (KMS) and Horse Powertrain, through Swedish company Aurobay. Supported by Volkswagen, Red Bull, and Bauhaus, a pair of Polos will compete in the inaugural ‘Battle of the Technologies’ campaign. Ole Christian Veiby will partner Kristoffersson in the second Polo RX. 

The cars have been developed in-house over the winter at the KMS Arvika workshop, and are described by team principal Tommy Kristoffersson as the best rallycross cars his crew has ever built. That looks to be true, in their only competitive outing to-date – at Tierp in the 2024 RallyX curtain-raiser – Kristoffersson and Veiby delivered a definitive one-two finish on both days. However, Kristoffersson is playing down their chances of repeating that feat at the highest level.

‘It will be tough to compete against the electric cars with our machines, but Aurobay is a dream partner for us, not only as a sponsor but also in technical terms,’ says Kristoffersson Jnr. ‘It will be fun to work with a long-term structure and plan accordingly. This is an exciting project that has a lot of typical KMS spirit about it.’

Veiby, who will be chasing his maiden World RX victory in 2024, echoes his teammate. ‘We are doing a turnaround and going in a different direction, which makes it difficult to predict how we will compare with the competition,’ he says. ‘There are many complicated elements that have to be tested on a new car, but it will be exciting to work with such a large and supportive partner,’ he continues.

Under the guiding hand of Kristoffersson Snr, KMS took the 2022 and 2023 World RX Teams’ trophies, and he is similarly upbeat about the new partnership, which he believes can help to send the outfit to the next level. ‘Aurobay is the best partner we can think of,’ says the multiple Swedish Rallycross Champion. ‘This is a win-win situation – we will benefit tremendously from each other. We both have a large staff of extremely talented engineers, meaning we will be able to exchange experiences and also personnel.

‘In the Volkswagen Group where I was trained, the motto has always been all motorsport should ultimately benefit the consumer. There is nothing that drives development forward as effectively as competition. With this project, we can take part in developing tomorrow’s engines,’ he states.

‘It’s inspiring to see the extreme desire and passion that exists within Horse Powertrain and Aurobay. Our ambition is a long-term collaboration for at least five years, which gives us the peace of mind to develop our cars with long foresight. We also hope to contribute to our partner becoming an obvious alternative as an engine manufacturer for many different car brands.

‘On the sporting side, “Battle of Technologies” is a fantastic concept that is unique to rallycross. It is an extremely big challenge, but an interesting one. We have a brand new car, a brand new partner and a very short timespan to match the electric cars. Although we have won in World RX for the last few years, we have to be humble and realise it will take a lot for us to fight for the title again, but having always aspired to be an attractive team for someone who is looking for a development partner, now we are there, it feels incredibly satisfying,’ Kristoffersson reports. 

Aurobay has developed, engineered and manufactured next-generation powertrain solutions for over 100 years, while Horse Powertrain Limited is a global leader in hybrid and combustion powertrain components and systems. With a 19,000-strong workforce across three continents, it partners with automotive OEMs worldwide to enable a faster transition to cleaner mobility.

‘Our vision for racing and performance is that we want to show the world our off-the-shelf two-litre engines can be tuned to much higher power levels to achieve great results in motorsport,’ explains Michael Fleiss, Aurobay Sweden CEO. ‘The FIA World Rallycross Championship is a fantastic platform for Horse Powertrain Ltd to show what ICE can deliver when powered by alternative fuels,’ says Matias Giannini, CEO of Horse Powertrain Limited. ‘We can provide powerful, lightweight and modular solutions for any occasion.’

The 2024 World RX campaign will get underway on KMS-Horse Powertrain home soil at Höljes’ legendary World RX of Sweden ‘Magic Weekend’ on 6-7 July. Kristoffersson and Veiby will be joined by Gustav Bergström and Sondre Evjen who will be driving a pair of electric Volkswagen RX1e rallycross machines.

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06 June 2024 ~ 0 Comments

Petter Solberg to drive Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 at Royal Rally of Scandinavia

The Bauhaus Royal Rally of Scandinavia, the third round of the 2024 European Rally Chamipionship, will have a true world-class driver ranks when it gets under starter’s orders in Karlstad, Sweden on 13 June. Petter Solberg has once again been coaxed out of ‘retirement’, and will be behind the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 rally car.

Important vehicle
The car was last seen in action at the 2019 Wales Rally GB, and is a hugely important vehicle when it comes to sixth-generation Polo rally machines. Wearing chassis number one, it is the first Polo GTI R5 ever made by Volkswagen Motorsport. Solberg said the car was ‘calling him’ to be taken back to rally stages, and that he also had some encouragement from his son Oliver Solberg, the 2019 FIA ERC1 Junior Rally Champion. Solberg, who won the 2003 World Rally Championship said: ‘It was calling me… every time I was in the workshop, the car was telling me to use it! You can’t ignore that.’

‘You know me, you know this family – rallying is everything to us,’ Solberg continued. Last year I took my mother for a ride in my Citroën C4 WRC on one stage of Royal Rally. That was nice, but Oliver was having all the fun and winning the rally. I want to have some of that fun!” Solberg exclaims. Going with the Norwegian and his Polo to Sweden is Monster Energy, Pirelli, and Castrol, and the car will be wearing a special new and distinctive livery.

Solberg is preparing for his ‘fun’ on a simulator, and will bring his Polo out of hibernation for pre-event testing. ‘We’re hoping to make a proper test with the Polo before the rally. I think the driving should be OK, it’s more the pacenotes which take some more practice, as I haven’t competed on a rally for almost six years. I drove a stage on this rally last year, but my mother was co-driving – and she was not reading the pacenotes for me!’ Solberg joked.

Solberg’s Polo GTI R5 last turned its wheels in anger at last year’s Royal Rally of Scandinavia in the hands of Solberg Jnr – who is also competing in the same Swedish round of the ERC as his father in a Skoda Fabia Rally2. ‘Basically, he won the event, we washed the car down and put it in the museum. Now we will take it out, dust it down and go for a test,’ reports Solberg, who first slipped behind the wheel of chassis number one six years ago.

‘I was helping to test the Polo GTI R5, working with F-X Demaison, then technical director at Volkswagen Motorsport, and then competing in Catalunya with it in 2018. I have some really happy memories with the car. When we were in Spain, we were setting fastest times in WRC2 and having a fantastic time. After that, Oliver has driven it sometimes; he grew up with the car, so it is a special one,’ Solberg explains.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, Rally Spain: Solberg/Engan

‘One hell of a competition’
‘I don’t go to Karlstad trying to win, it’s for the show and to enjoy the driving. We know there are a lot of very fast drivers in ERC – it’s one hell of a competition. It will be tough. It’s five years since I did Rally GB (winning WRC2 and finishing 10th overall), nothing since then. The speed is incredible in the championship and you can’t just switch it back on,’ he continued. ‘This is the European Rally Championship with some big names and, don’t forget, a lot of those drivers have more experience of the stages than I do, having done the inaugural event last year.

‘It’s like this,’ laughed Petter. ‘I am Rocky coming back! I remember this film, it was a good fight, but Rocky didn’t win in the end… Seriously, this is to enjoy. The priority is to drive the car to give something to the rally fans coming from Norway and for those people watching the ERC from around the world. Last year we worked hard to help the organisers to build this event up and this is the same. Like always, we do everything we can to build rallying up some more,’ explained Solberg.

Jonas Andersson is on co-driving duties, and Solberg is revved up for the whole experience. ‘I am really looking forward to this, being back in the car is something special. I’m so excited. The comeback is on!’ Asked whether he can win, Solberg said coyly, ‘You know what it’s like when the helmet is coming on the head… I will say all of these things about the tough competition, but when the lights go out at the start of the stage – we all have one aim!’

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

Solberg’s PSRX World Rallycross Polo teammate Johan Kristoffersson will also be reunited with a Polo GTI R5 for the Royal Rally event, after being asked by Kristoffersson Motorsport sponsors Bauhaus. The six-time World Rallycross champion will compete with his family team’s Polo, with his former co- driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen. ‘I haven’t driven a gravel rally in the forest for five years, so expectations are low,’ Kristoffersson said. ‘It would have been nice to prepare properly, but there’s no time, so we’ll take it as it comes. It’s still fun to be the underdog for a change.’

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13 January 2022 ~ 0 Comments

Johan Kristoffersson to drive VW in 2022 World Rallycross – will it be a Polo?

Four-time FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson is returning to the series in 2022, with his sights set on a fifth Drivers’ prize. Three of those four series wins were at the wheel of a Polo RX, and the 33-year-old has confirmed that for 2022, he will be back in a Volkswagen. So, will it be a Polo?

Kristoffersson’s association with the rallycross Polo is legendary, so we can only hope that as the fire-breathing cars in the top-tier series are based on small hatches, there’s a good chance a Polo could make an RX return. But, what we do know is that if Kristoffersson’s machine does have ‘POLO’ on its backside, it won’t be like any other Polo, because it will be electric.

Electric powertrain
Yes, that’s right. Kristoffersson Motorsport (KMS) is fielding three Volkswagens in the World RX’s inaugural electric campaign. Alongside Kristoffersson will be two team-mates, and underpinning the cars will be the Kreisel Electric-developed RX1e electric powertrain. With a pair of motors, up to 500kW – equivalent to 680bhp – and 880Nm of torque available instantly will mean the cars will have acceleration faster than an Formula 1 car.

The idea of an electric motorsport isn’t so outlandish. Baumschlager Rallye & Racing GmbH has been event testing Kreisel’s similar RX-E1 electric drivetrain in rally situations, using a Skoda Motorsport-prepared Fabia, so the concept isn’t new – and the Fabia is a Volkswagen Group product – but it will be interesting to see the technology into another discipline. Ideally suited to RX because of its short spring race format, Kristoffersson is energised by the move to electric. As in 2020, KMS will run under the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS banner.

‘Really inspiring’
‘It’s really inspiring to be part of rallycross’ new electric era right from the outset,’ he stated. ‘The last time we undertook a project on a scale of this kind was in 2014, when we built our own cars for the first season of the World Rallycross Championship. The big difference is that back then, I was completely inexperienced in rallycross – whereas things are a little different now..

‘There are a lot of unknowns when everything is so new. In recent years, we have all followed proven concepts, so the development steps have been comparatively small – but there is much greater potential with these new cars,’ Kristoffersson continued. ‘Electric is the future for both motorsport and the automotive industry in general, and helping to drive that development is, for me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the sport. I expect an incredibly tough, competitive season ahead, and I’m excited to get started!’

‘Wealth of knowledge’
‘This will be the largest project in KMS’ history,’ said Tommy Kristoffersson, team manager of Kristoffersson Motorsport. ‘A small family business building and developing three new cars in accordance with a new concept clearly comes with great personal responsibility, but we can rely upon a team of extremely skilled individuals, and a wealth of knowledge and experience from Germany and within our own workshop in Arvika.’

‘Johan Kristoffersson is one of the biggest motorsport names Sweden has ever known,’ stated Sten Forsberg, CEO, Volkswagen Sweden. ‘Four FIA World Rallycross Championship titles is an outstanding accomplishment, and we wish him all the best now that he is taking the step into the sport’s new electric era – most importantly, with a Volkswagen emblem on the front of his car.’

The action will get underway at the Swedish rallycross track Höljes on 2-3 July, but details of the car itself and the remaining pair of drivers are expected to be announced soon. We’re keeping everything crossed for a Polo-shaped return to the premier rallycross series, and an exciting step into its possible electric future…


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26 January 2021 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Gryazin fifth in RC2 at 2021 Rallye Monte-Carlo

Hot in the tyre tracks of Niclas Grönholm and Antto Linnaketo’s sixth place at the 2021 Arctic Lapland Rally, Nikolay Gryazin and his co-driver Konstantin Aleksandrov took their Polo GTI R5 to fifth place in the RC2 class at the 2021 Rallye Monte-Carlo. The Russian duo’s strikingly liveried Movisport SRL Polo also clocked up the quickest RC2 time on the Power Stage at the 21-24 January event.

By the close of day one, the pair were third in RC2, but dropped a couple of places after day two’s 12 stages. In the overall results, Gryazin and Aleksandrov’s Polo was the highest-placed GTI R5, in 12th place. Three other versions of the 272bhp four-wheel drive rallying Polo were also to be found on the ‘Monte’ stages. Ex-Škoda and Volkswagen driver Kevin Abbring and co-driver Pieter Tsjoen’s number 26 car finished 12th in RC2 and 20th overall.

At the 89th ‘Monte’, the #52 machine of Olivier Burri and Anderson Levratti scored 10th in RC2 and 18th overall, and the number 60 GTI R5 of Philippe and Christophe Roux crossed the RC2 line 26th. The Swiss pair finished 46th in the overall rankings.

[Image: Volkswagen Motorsport]

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17 January 2021 ~ 0 Comments

Polo GTI R5 results round-up: Grönholm and Linnaketo score sixth at 2021 Arctic Lapland Rally

Volkswagen Motorsport may have closed its doors, but the rally monster that is the Polo GTI R5 can still be seen out on the stages. At least 15 of the 272bhp four-wheel drive rally machines were made before the end of 2018, its debut year, and the rally GTI has tasted victory in the hands of famous names, including Oliver Solberg, son of world champion Petter Solberg.

Another celebrated rallying name is now associated with the GTI R5. Niclas Grönholm, son of two-time WRC title holder and former Volkswagen test driver Marcus Grönholm took the wheel of a MRF-tyred Polo for the 2021 Arctic Lapland Rally. The Finnish event ran from 15-16 January and Grönholm’s ALM Motorsport-prepared car came home in tenth place overall at the end of the seven-stage event. The result puts the young Finnish rallycross driver and his co-pilot Antti Linnaketo sixth in the 2021 Finnish Rally Championship.

‘Very challenging’
‘It was great to have two cars wearing MRF Tyres inside the top 10. The stages were in good condition, but there was a lot of loose snow, and it was very challenging,’ reported Grönholm.

Other Arctic Lapland Rally Polo GTI R5 runners included the pairings of Egon Kaur and Silver Simm for Kaur Motorsport; Georg Linnamäe and Tanel Kasesalu in another ALM Motorsport car; and Jussi Keskiniva and Mikko Kaikkonen in a Printsport-liveried Polo. Keskiniva finished 18th overall, with Linnamäe 21st and Kaur 30th. The 2021 event isn’t the first at which Polo GTI R5s have been seen in action: in 2019, Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen helmed their small VW to victory.

There is more Polo GTI R5 action next weekend, as four cars are scheduled to take part in the 2021 running of the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo.

[Images: MRF Tyres / Volkswagen Motorsport]

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