Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miika Anttila at the 32. ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
|Category||World Rally Car|
|Designer(s)||Heinz-Jakob Neußer (Technical Director)|
|Predecessor||Volkswagen Golf GTI (1983—1988)
Škoda Fabia S2000 (2011—2012)[N 1]
|Chassis||Reinforced body with welded, multi-point roll cage built to FIA specifications|
|Suspension (front)||MacPherson-type struts with ZF Friedrichshafen dampers|
|Suspension (rear)||MacPherson-type struts with ZF Friedrichshafen dampers|
|Length||3,976 mm (156.5 in)|
|Width||1,820 mm (72 in)|
|Height||1,356 mm (53.4 in)|
|Axle track||1,610 mm (63 in)|
|Wheelbase||2,480 mm (98 in)|
|Engine||Bespoke Volkswagen 1.6 L (98 cu in) straight-four engine, turbocharged with anti-lag system and 33 mm (1.3 in) air restrictor, transversally mounted|
|Transmission||Bespoke Volkswagen 6-speed sequential manual transmission, transversally mounted with front and rear multi-plate limited-slip differential|
|Weight||1,200 kg (2,646 lb) before drivers or fuel|
|Fuel||Customised controlled blend specified by FIA for all cars competing under World Rally Car regulations|
|Tyres||Michelin competition tyres:
46 cm (18 in) for tarmac events,
38 cm (15 in) for gravel rallies
|Notable entrants|| Volkswagen Motorsport
Volkswagen Motorsport II[N 2]
|Notable drivers|| Jari-Matti Latvala
|Debut||81ème Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo|
|First win||61st Rally Sweden|
|Last win||71st Wales Rally GB|
|Last event||71st Wales Rally GB|
|Constructors' Championships||2013, 2014, 2015 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers|
|Drivers' Championships||2013, 2014, 2015 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers|
The Volkswagen Polo R WRC is a World Rally Car built and operated by Volkswagen Motorsport and based on the Volkswagen Polo for use in the World Rally Championship. The car, which made its debut at the start of the 2013 season, is built to the second generation of World Rally Car regulations that were introduced 2011, which are based upon the existing Super 2000 regulations, but powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine rather than the normally aspirated 2-litre engine found in Super 2000 cars.
The Polo R WRC marks Volkswagen's second entry into the World Rally Championship as a manufacturer. Volkswagen Motorsport had previously entered the Volkswagen Golf GTI and GTI 16V in rallies between 1983 and 1988 with some success, including six podium finishes and a win at the 19ème Rallye Côte d'Ivoire during the 1987 season. The company also made the Volkswagen Golf Mk3 and Mk4 available as a kit car to privateer entries during the Group A era from 1993 to 1997, though its use was mostly limited to national championships.
The car was extremely successful from its debut, winning ten of the thirteen rallies it contested in its first season, and continuing the trend in its second with a further eleven wins. Sébastien Ogier won consecutive FIA World Rally Championships for Drivers in 2013, 2014 and 2015, whilst Volkswagen Motorsport secured the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers in all three years.
- 1 Competition history
- 2 Use in other series
- 3 Complete World Rally Championship results
- 4 Footnotes
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Polo R WRC was officially unveiled in May 2011, and spent the next eighteen months in testing, with two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz, Sébastien Ogier—who was recruited to the team from the Citroën World Rally Team at the end of the 2011 season—and Volkswagen's testing and development driver Dieter Depping carrying out development in Norway, Finland, Germany, Spain and Mexico to simulate the conditions the car would encounter in competition. The testing phase was not without incident; the team signed Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala in October 2012, but his first test in Mexico was cut short when he collided with a passenger car whilst travelling on public roads between stages. No-one was seriously injured in the crash, but the car was too damaged to continue testing. Further testing also took place in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur to prepare the cars for the unique snow and tarmac roads used in the Monte Carlo Rally, the first event of the 2013 season.
The car was originally intended to make its debut at the 2012 Rally d'Italia in Sardegna, but these plans were abandoned in favour of continuing development, and the car was submitted to the FIA in November for homologation. Parallel to this, Volkswagen Motorsport entered two Škoda Fabias built to Super 2000 specifications in twelve rounds of the 2012 season—and a third car in the 2012 Rallye Deutschland—to develop experience in running a World Rally Championship team. As the team was not competing with a World Rally Car, they were ineligible for championship points. The final build of the Polo R WRC was formally launched in December 2012 in Monaco.
Competition debut (2013)
Two cars driven by Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala contested the full 2013 season of the World Rally Championship. Andreas Mikkelsen competed part-time throughout 2013 in a third car that was entered under the name "Volkswagen Motorsport II". Mikkelsen was entered separately to allow him an additional thirty days of testing for the year, rather than having to share the existing test quota for manufacturer teams with Ogier and Latvala.
In its debut season, the car scored six wins in its first eight rallies. After finishing second on the Rallye Monte Carlo, Sébastien Ogier went on to win the rallies of Sweden, Mexico, and Portugal. Jari-Matti Latvala scored his first win for Volkswagen in Greece. Following concerns that the cost of moving to a new specification for the 2014 season would drive Ford and Citroën out of the category, Volkswagen successfully lobbied to keep the current car spec for another year. Ogier continued his winning streak with victories in the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, Rally of Finland, and had the opportunity to secure the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers at the Rally Deutschland. However, a mistake on the first leg forced him into retirement, and while he re-entered the following day under the Rally-2 regulations, doing so came with an automatic five-minute time penalty and Ogier finished seventeenth overall. Despite this, Ogier won the rally's power stage, and as a result, would go on to score points in every round of the championship.
Ogier had another opportunity to win the title in Australia, but Qatar World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville—by this point, the only driver still in mathematical contention for the championship—finished the rally second overall, forcing the title fight to go unresolved until the next round in France. Ogier needed to out-score Neuville by just a single point to be declared the 2013 champion. He achieved on the first stage of the rally, which in a break with tradition, was run as the event's power stage. Ogier went on to win the rally, and finished the season with two more wins in Spain, where a second-place finish for team-mate Latvala was enough to secure the Manufacturers' title for Volkswagen, and Wales, where Latvala against finished second.
At the end of the season, the Polo R WRC had won ten of the thirteen rallies it entered, finished on the podium eight more times, and secured both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' championships at the first attempt. In doing so, Ogier and Volkswagen broke Sébastien Loeb and Citroën's streak of nine consecutive World Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championship titles respectively.
Title defence (2014)
In anticipation of its title defence in 2014, development of the car continued through the 2013-2014 off-season, with the team introducing a series of performance updates to the car ahead of the 2014 Rallye Monte Carlo. Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala remained with the team, whilst Andreas Mikkelsen's programme was expanded to include all thirteen rounds of the championship, but the team did not nominate him to score manufacturer points in Australia.
The car's domination continued, winning the first six rallies of the season. Ogier overcame difficult conditions to win in Monte Carlo by over a minute, before going on to win in Mexico, Portugal, Italy, and Poland, while Jari-Matti Latvala claimed wins in Sweden, Argentina and Finland. Andreas Mikkelsen scored his first podium at the World Championship level in Sweden, followed by a second in Poland, and finishing in the points in every rally. Latvala's win in Argentina, the ninth consecutive win by the Polo R WRC, broke the previous record of eight consecutive rally victories set by the Citroën DS3 WRC in 2011.
Ogier and Latvala had the opportunity to secure the 2014 World Championship for Manufacturers for Volkswagen in the Rally of Germany, but both of them crashed out of the event. With Mikkelsen finishing third overall—behind the Hyundai i20 WRCs of Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo—the Polo R WRC's record-breaking run came to an end after twelve rounds. The team recovered to take a clean sweep of the podium in Australia, with Ogier winning ahead of Latvala to secure the manufacturers' title. Mikkelsen finished third overall, but was not registered to score manufacturer points.
Ogier had the opportunity to secure his second consecutive drivers' title in France, but lost nine minutes on the first day of the event with a faulty gear selector and a time penalty. Ogier was unable to recover and ultimately finished eleventh, allowing Latvala to take a full twenty-five points out of his championship lead with another win—the first of his career on tarmac—while Mikkelsen matched his career-best result of second place. Despite his problems in France, Ogier entered the penultimate round in Spain with a twenty-seven point advantage over Latvala. Running first on the road, he was unhindered by thick dust that threatened to obscure the vision of his rivals, and he took a comfortable victory and his second consecutive World Championship. Latvala finished the event second, with Mikkelsen struggling through the dust to seventh place. With his second World Championship title secured, Ogier went on to win the Wales Rally GB. Latvala and Mikkelsen struggled throughout, with Latvala finishing eighth and Mikkelsen retiring.
Second generation (2015)
The second generation of the Polo R WRC was put into development in early 2014, in anticipation of a 2015 debut, with an ongoing development schedule planned to take the second generation car through to the next revision of the technical regulations in 2017. Two-time World Drivers' Champion Marcus Grönholm joined the team's expanded testing and development programme, while the team retained Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen as their drivers. The car was updated to include a brand-new gearbox and revised hydraulic system, a larger rear wing to generate more downforce, and substantial weight reduction, with over seventy-five percent of the car having been developed during the off-season. Ogier and Latvala contested the entire season with the updated Polo, while Mikkelsen started the season with a car built to 2014 specifications before switching to the 2015 build ahead of the Rally of Portugal.
Volkswagen Motorsport took a clean sweep of the podium positions in the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally. Ogier won after an early battle with nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb—whose one-off guest appearance in a Citroën DS3 WRC came to an abrupt end when he crashed out on the second leg of the event—and recorded another win in Sweden despite losing several minutes in a spin and having to reclaim the rally lead from Mikkelsen. Ogier recorded another victory in Mexico, with Mikkelsen again on the podium. Latvala scored a podium in Monte Carlo, but was forced to retire in Sweden and finished seventeenth in Mexico, prompting team principal Jost Capito to admit that his drivers' championship campaign was potentially over after just three rounds.
After enduring a difficult Rally Argentina that saw Ogier finish outside the points and both Latvala and Mikkelsen retire, Volkswagen recovered to take a clean sweep of the podium in Portugal, led by Ogier. Ogier continued his form, winning the next two events in Italy and Poland, but faced stiff competition from Hyundai's Hayden Paddon and M-Sport driver Ott Tänak. After writing his 2015 title bid off following the Rally Poland, Latvala took his second win of the season in Finland—his third on the event, matching compatriot Juha Kankkunen's record—ahead of Ogier while Mikkelsen retired. In doing so, Latvala set a new record for the fastest rally in the sport's history, averaging 125.44 km/h (77.94 mph) over the event; by comparison, the previous record set by Sébastien Loeb during the 2012 running of the event was 122.89 km/h (76.36 mph). The team secured its third one-two-three finish of the season at the next round in Germany, finally winning its home event on the third attempt, and in doing so, recorded at least one win at each individual event on the calendar. Ogier went on to win his third consecutive drivers' title at the next round in Australia, leading hom Latvala and Kris Meeke, with Mikkelsen in fourth.
The championship returned to Corsica for the first time in seven years where the teams endured difficult conditions that saw several stages cancelled. Ogier suffered a gearbox problem that forced him to retire from the first leg of the rally while Latvala had to catch Elfyn Evans to secure victory. Mikkelsen was third, having recovered from early difficulties of his own, while Ogier finished seventeenth overall, and the tenth driver eligible to score manufacturer points. Mikkelsen went on to take his maiden WRC victory in Spain when Sébastien Ogier crashed on the final stage, promoting Latvala to second in the process. Ogier finished the year with his eleventh win of the season in Wales, with Mikkelsen in third. Latvala crashed out on the opening leg of the rally and after restarting the next day, went on to finish fiftieth overall and was classified as the final driver eligible to score manufacturer points. Volkswagen Motorsport finished the season with twelve wins from thirteen rallies, while sister team Volkswagen Motorsport II were classified fifth in the final standings.
Use in other series
World Rally Championship-2 and World Rally Championship-3
Under the Group R regulations introduced in 2012, the Polo R WRC was homologated as a World Rally Car in such a way that it could be adapted to fit the Group R regulations as an R5 car for use in the newly formed World Rally Championship-2 and World Rally Championship-3 feeder series. However, as Volkswagen's sister company Škoda developed the Škoda Fabia R5 for the same purpose, an R5 variant of the Polo R WRC was not put into production.
World Rallycross Championship
A variation of the Polo R WRC known as the Volkswagen Polo RX Supercar was entered by Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport and Kristofferson Motorsport in the inaugural season of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. The car was also eligible to compete in rounds of the FIA European Rallycross Championship accepting Supercar entries, and the Global Rallycross Championship after the series adopted Supercar regulations. The car was homologated under World Rally Car regulations and modified to fit the series' Supercar regulations, allowing for a two-litre engine with supercharger and a 45 mm (1.8 in) air restrictor. The radiator was relocated to the rear of the car to cope with the demands of competition. The Citroën DS3 WRC and Hyundai i20 WRC were similarly converted over to World Rallycross regulations owing to their existing homologations as World Rally Cars.
China Touring Car Championship
A Volkswagen Polo was entered into the China Touring Car Championship by the Shanghai VW 333 Racing Team from the 2011 season onwards. The car, known as the Volkswagen Polo 1.6T—so named for its 1.6 L (98 cu in), turbocharged engine—was entered under the series' Super Production rules, based on the existing Super 2000 and Super 1600 regulations for touring cars and rally cars. Following the competition debut of the Polo R WRC in 2013, the Polo 1.6T's aerodynamic package was updated to reflect the Polo R WRC, though the 1.6T name was retained to distinguish it.
Complete World Rally Championship results
WRC championship titles
|2013||FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers||Sébastien Ogier||13||9||2||290|
|FIA World Rally Championship for Co-Drivers||Julien Ingrassia||13||9||2||290|
|FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers||Volkswagen Motorsport||26||10||8||425|
|2014||FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers||Sébastien Ogier||13||8||2||267|
|FIA World Rally Championship for Co-Drivers||Julien Ingrassia||13||8||2||267|
|FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers||Volkswagen Motorsport||26||12||6||447|
|2015||FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers||Sébastien Ogier||13||8||2||253|
|FIA World Rally Championship for Co-Drivers||Julien Ingrassia||13||8||2||253|
|FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers||Volkswagen Motorsport||26||11||6||413|
- † — Season in progress.
- ‡ — Team ineligible to score manufacturer points.
- The Škoda Fabia S2000 remained in use throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons, competing in the World Rally Championship-2 under Group R regulations and in the European Rally Championship under Super 2000 rules.
- Volkswagen Motorsport II is operated by parent team Volkswagen Motorsport, but is structured as a separate team for points-scoring purposes.
- Volkswagen Motorsport
- World Rally Car
- Super 2000
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