VW's WRC 2 Polo breaks cover
Volkswagen's brand-new R5-spec Polo GTI has completed its first tests on asphalt and gravel roads in the south of France with Pontus Tidemand at the wheel.
The new machine is the first rally car to roll out of the German manufacturer's headquarters in Wolfsburg since it ended its factory WRC programme at the end of the 2016 season.
The R5 car is based on the latest generation Polo and will be made available to WRC 2 teams and drivers through Volkswagen's customer racing department.
As preparations for the car's anticipated WRC 2 debut during the second half of the 2018 season ramp up, the car completed a three-day test in Fontjoncouse.
VW test driver Dieter Depping and Skoda Motorsport's Tidemand, winner of the 2017 WRC 2 title, both took the wheel on the same roads that VW used to test its original Polo R WRC car back in 2011.
The first test day involved general set up work on a 3.85km asphalt stage where the durability of the car's tyres, brakes, engine and cooling system were evaluated. The next two days were driven on rough gravel roads that VW said put 'a huge amount of strain on the chassis, dampers and suspension'.
“A successful first test is a good sign and great motivation,” Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets said. “After 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.”
Depping was impressed with his first taste of the car. He said: "I can tell you one thing now: the R5 Polo is very good, very quick and precise. I immediately felt right at home!”