Volkswagen to start
2017 testing

Volkswagen Motorsport is due to begin testing a World Rally Car incorporating new-for-2017 technical regulations this month, wrc.com understands.

The German squad will be the first manufacturer to test a car featuring the exciting new-generation rules, the outline principles for which were given the green light by the FIA last month.

Double world champion Marcus Grönholm will drive the car when testing starts. It is believed that up to two weeks’ work is planned before the end of the year, with the Finn responsible for most of that.

Neither Grönholm nor Volkswagen Motorsport director Jost Capito would comment on the plans, but it is believed the test car will be a modified 2015 Polo R WRC, fitted with bodywork complying with the 2017 rules.

It is understood it could be the second quarter of next year before Volkswagen is ready to test a full 2017-specification car.

Grönholm, who inked a deal to join Volkswagen 12 months ago as a test driver, will be involved in the development of the new car both this year and in 2016.

An artist's impression how a 2017 World Rally Car could look

“Volkswagen’s event drivers will be busy testing the current Polo in preparation for rallies this year, so Grönholm will play a big role now and especially next year,” a source told wrc.com.

Following the FIA’s acceptance of the principles, it is expected the final regulations will be approved by the World Motor Sport Council later this year.

A striking aggressive look via a new aerodynamic package which includes a bigger rear wing, and engine power raised to 380bhp are the headline changes.

Cars will be bigger due to a 55mm increase in permitted width and a greater overhang at the front and rear, electronically-controlled centre differentials will return and they will be 25kg lighter.

The changes will be the biggest since the current technical rules were introduced in 2011, but FIA chiefs stress they are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

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