February 2018 Update
World rally champions test the Polo GTI R5 in Sweden
Ice test passed: The new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 has been successfully put through its paces in Sweden – by three world rally champions, no less. Petter Solberg (N), 2003 WRC champion, was joined at the wheel of the four-wheel drive rally car for customer sports by 2000 and 2002 world champion Marcus Grönholm (FIN), and Pontus Tidemand (S), junior world champion in 2013 and WRC2 champion in 2017. The four-day test took place near the Swedish town of Kall. With temperatures as low as minus 15 degrees Celsius and an icy surface with many snow banks along the four-kilometre section of route, the conditions were ideal to give the 272-hp Polo GTI R5 a really stern test, during which it demonstrated its excellent reliability.
“It was just fantastic to be back behind the wheel of a rally car again and to help out the Volkswagen family,” said Solberg, who competes in the FIA World Rallycross Championship with his PSRX Volkswagen Team Sweden. “It was a really fun day. The team has done such a great job and the car is fantastic to drive. I didn’t want to get out at the end of the day. We covered almost 300 kilometres in one day – very different to what I’m used to in the World Rallycross Championship. I used my years of rallying experience to work with the engineers on small changes to the car. Big thanks to all the team for their work, and to Veronica Engan for stepping into the co-driver’s seat.”
Engstler and Thoma win with the Golf GTI in Dubai
Liqui Moly Team Engstler enjoyed a perfect weekend with the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. Luca Engstler (D) and team-mate Florian Thoma (CH) each won one race at rounds two and three of the TCR Middle East. In the opening race in Dubai, Engstler followed up his recent victory in Abu Dhabi with another dominant win. The 17-year-old, who was fastest in practice and so started from pole position, led from start to finish, with Giacomo Altoè (I, Audi) struggling to put him under any pressure in second place. Third place went to Lorenzo Veglia (I) in another Golf GTI TCR, run by the Pit Lane Competizioni team.
In race two, it was Thoma who climbed rapidly from fifth on the grid to move into the lead by the end of the opening lap. The Swiss driver never looked back, as he went on to claim his first victory in the TCR Middle East series. Engstler came home third in this race. With 89 points to his name, he now travels to the season finale of the TCR Middle East in Bahrain (23/24 February) as the overall leader. Engstler leads second-placed Altoè by 14 points. As such, the young Volkswagen driver is well placed to win the title with the 350-hp Golf GTI.
More information: www.middleeast.tcr-series.com
Johan Kristoffersson (S) and Petter Solberg (N) from PSRX Volkswagen Team Sweden will line up at the Race of Champions (RoC) in Riad (KSA) on 02 and 03 February. While reigning World Rallycross champion Kristoffersson is set to make his debut at the renowned motorsport spectacle, former World Rally champion Solberg is one of the more experienced drivers at the invitational competition, with four starts already under his belt. Also in action will be Lando Norris. The Brit, who won the Formula 3 European Championship in 2017 in a car “powered by Volkswagen”, will make his RoC debut – as will the man he pipped to the title, Joel Eriksson (S). Another former Volkswagen Junior, René Rast (D) has also confirmed that he will be taking part. The 2017 DTM champion won his first automobile title in the ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup in 2005.
More information: www.raceofchampions.com
Flying visit for the Polo GTI R5: The new rally car for customer sports was on display during the driving event for the new Volkswagen up! GTI in Monte Carlo (MC). The Polo GTI R5 was exhibited in a particularly prominent location in the Mediterranean principality: in the world famous “Rascasse” corner of the Grand Prix circuit. The Rally Monte Carlo (26–28 January) was also held this weekend, making it the perfect opportunity for the new racer to strut its stuff in front of an expert audience. The Polo GTI R5 itself could well go in search of world championship points for the first time at the iconic “Monte” in January 2019.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR made its debut in the American IMSA series on the same bill as the 24 Hours of Daytona. Volkswagen customer team Rumcastle LLC, with drivers Jon Miller, Luke Rumburg and Tanner Rumburg (all USA), finished fifth in the TCR class in the four-hour race, which forms part of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. More information: www.imsa.com