Monday | 15 Aug 2016

2017 World Rally Cars uncovered: part 3

Volkswagen Motorsport Technical Director, Francois-Xavier Demaison, has admitted the WRC’s new-for-2017 technical regulations could end the manufacturer’s recent domination in the sport.

In the third part of our series looking closely at the new rules that are being adopted to make the WRC more spectacular in 2017, the man that has led the development of VW’s all-conquering Polo R since it entered the series in 2013 speaks about the technical challenge the team faces to produce a car that will be a regular winner on all surfaces next season.

Demaison has been excited about designing a brand-new Polo R for 2017 but he acknowledged the process comes with risks.

He said: “For sure a white sheet of paper is always nice for engineers and we like to have new rules or a new project, because with more freedom it’s always interesting.

“But it’s always risky because today we have a very competitive car, but maybe with the new rules we can do mistakes, the others will catch up and we will not have the best car, even if we do everything we can to achieve this.

“It is a very important new season for Volkswagen. Toyota is joining, Hyundai is very strong now, Citroën is re-joining and Ford is still here, so that will be a very, very tough championship with major car manufacturers.

"Volkswagen wants to win and beat all these manufacturers and show that the Volkswagen Polo is the best car in the WRC.”

The new-breed of World Rally Cars will look very different from the cars that are currently gracing the world’s stages in 2016. The 2017 cars will be wider, longer and more aggressively styled thanks to revised aerodynamic regulations that allow bigger aero devices like the rear spoiler, rear wing, rear diffusor and front splitter.

But the introduction of new aero features like a more dramatic rear wing brings challenges that the manufacturer design teams have to overcome – and nobody will know who has come up with the best all-round solution until the cars do battle at Rallye Monte-Carlo in January.

“The big rear wing will first bring more drag, there’s no doubt; it will be a draggy rear wing so it will make the car slower in some respect but faster in corners," Demaison explained. "This is the most complicated compromise to find between drag and downforce.

“Efficiency is a key factor and we have to find the right balance and all the simulations we do, and the testing, are based on this. We all have our own ideas and we will see who found the best compromise next year on the rallies, but beforehand it’s really difficult to be sure who gets the best result.”


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