Volkswagen Motorsport has debuted its new Polo GTI R5 with a one-time works entry in the Rally Spain. Two cars showed the model’s potential with strong performance, including a podium finish for the car driven by Petter Solberg.
Although VW halted its works rally program in the wake of Dieselgate, it has continued to develop customer racing cars. The first of the 268 PS Polo GTI R5s will be delivered to customers in the coming weeks.
In the Polo R5’s debut, Solberg and co-driver Veronica Engan achieved a third-place finish. Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas led for much of the rally, but a defect in the shift linkage cost them the victory.
“The pace of the Polo GTI R5 was good from the start,” said Gerard-Jan de Jongh, technical project lead for the Polo GTI R5. “Eric Camilli and Petter Solberg demonstrated that the car is competitive and fast in all conditions and with both drivers. However, a competition like the Rally Spain is always different from testing – which is why a minor defect had a major impact. But the problem with the shift linkage is easy to solve and eliminate before the car is delivered to customers. All in all, we are extremely pleased with the debut.”
“We are really pleased with the Polo GTI R5’s debut and I think that we have completed our mission,” said Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport director. “Petter and Eric delivered top performances in very difficult conditions and helped the Polo GTI R5 make a strong debut, with both drivers getting best times. Leading the first rally ahead of strong competition and winning special stages on different surfaces is a clear sign that the Polo GTI R5 is extremely competitive. At the same time, we know that the car has even more potential.”
Customer cars are already in production in Hannover. The Polo R5 is the first model to be produced at the new Ikarusallee facility. VW is aiming to deliver an additional 30 to 40 cars to customers next year.