VW FEARING STRONG OPPOSITION IN 2017
Way since 2013 but Demaison fears big manufacturer opposition next year
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.