Way since 2013 but De­mai­son fears big man­u­fac­turer op­po­si­tion next year

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ad­van­tage in 2012 when we made the Polo. And any­way, it’s good to have the com­pe­ti­tion again. The fight is why we are here. If you go to the rally with your only stress be­ing a visit to scru­ti­neer­ing then it’s not so nice.”

As well as bet­ter-funded and more ex­pe­ri­enced ri­valry com­ing next sea­son, the tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions will con­tinue to make it dif­fi­cult to achieve any gains – par­tic­u­larly in the en­gine.

Volk­swa­gen’s di­rec­tor of en­gine de­vel­op­ment Dona­tus Wichel­haus told MN: “Be­cause of the re­stric­tor and the turbo, it’s not pos­si­ble for any car to have more than five bhp more or less than another. Next sea­son won’t be won or lost on the en­gine.”

Which means it will be won or lost with the chas­sis.

De­mai­son added: “There is more chance to win with the chas­sis and with the sus­pen­sion – this is why we spend so much time work­ing with these ar­eas. Another key area will be the aero. We have more horse­power, so we have to de­cide how much down­force we want and how much drag we are pre­pared to ac­cept. We all made our cal­cu­la­tions, but it’s only in Monte Carlo that we will see who has done the best home­work.”

Part of the on­go­ing home­work is to study what the op­po­si­tion is do­ing, the de­sign of­fice in Han­nover spends a rea­son­able amount of time chas­ing Youtube footage from around the world just to see what Citroen’s run­ning on its C3 WRC or to lis­ten for another change to the en­gine note from Tommi Maki­nen’s Toy­ota Yaris.

“We’re watch­ing,” said De­mai­son, “and we’re def­i­nitely not too proud to look at the oth­ers and see if we can spot some­thing and use it with­out hav­ing to spend any money. If we can, for sure, we are go­ing to take this kind of thing for free!”

The take on what’s in and what’s out on the aero front has been fas­ci­nat­ing, but re­cent con­fir­ma­tion from the FIA means the Yaris’ rear wing cur­rently sits out­side the law; the veined rear wing to give in­creased lat­eral down­force is a thing of the past.

In­creased aero­dy­nam­ics and longer (27.5mm) sus­pen­sion arms will still raise cor­ner speeds next sea­son, De­mai­son said a key area is sav­ing the ex­tended aero at the front and rear. The 2017 cars are 60mm longer at the front and 30mm at the rear – with a rear dif­fuser – and look far more dra­matic. But for how long?

“The big ques­tion for the aero is to make it re­li­able,” said De­mai­son. “Look at Poland, we had cars com­ing in – most of the time ours – with bro­ken spoil­ers. You have to be more care­ful next year. If you de­stroy the front split­ter af­ter 10 kilo­me­tres and still have 50 more to do in the loop, hav­ing no front aero will be tough. It’s about find­ing the com­pro­mise be­tween keep­ing it through the rally, get­ting the down­force and min­imis­ing the drag. We tested with bro­ken aero to find the im­pact on the cars.”

By the time it ar­rives at the start of next year’s Monte Carlo Rally, the 2017 Polo R WRC will have com­pleted close to 5000 miles of test­ing across all sur­faces.

VW ex­pects new Polo to reach 5000 miles test­ing

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