POLOR5 TO FEA­TURE IN EURO­PEAN SE­RIES

First new vw cars are de­liv­ered to cus­tomer teams

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By David Evans

Volk­swa­gen has de­liv­ered its first Polo GTI R5 – and the car has been im­me­di­ately com­mit­ted to next sea­son’s Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship.

For­mer Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship star turned team owner Raimund Baum­schlager was the first to re­ceive this most ea­gerly awaited of R5 cars in Hanover last week. A fur­ther 10 cars will be de­liv­ered be­fore the end of this sea­son.

Baum­schlager’s firm BRR will give a cus­tomer Polo its maiden com­pet­i­tive out­ing at the Prague Rallysprint on Sat­ur­day. The Aus­trian will ul­ti­mately run three Po­los next sea­son, with the ERC at the fore­front of his plans.

Four­teen-time Aus­trian cham­pion Baum­schlager, who has worked closely with Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport on the de­vel­op­ment of the Polo, said: “Two Polo GTI R5s are al­ready ear­marked for the ERC. We have at least a hand­ful of po­ten­tial in­ter­ested par­ties for the third car. We have had a lot of en­quiries from cus­tomers who en­joy a close as­so­ci­a­tion with Volk­swa­gen and are very pleased that this man­u­fac­turer is now also of­fer­ing a rally car.”

ERC co-or­di­na­tor JeanBap­tiste Ley said he would be de­lighted to see Po­los in his eight-round se­ries.

“This re­ally is very ex­cit­ing news,” said Ley. “We’ve fol­lowed closely the work Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport has put into de­vel­op­ing its first R5 chal­lenger and we’re de­lighted at least two cars are set to com­pete in the ERC in 2019. It’s also great that a highly ca­pa­ble and pro­fes­sional or­gan­i­sa­tion like Baum­schlager Ral­lye and Rac­ing is con­tin­u­ing its ERC par­tic­i­pa­tion with this car.”

Fol­low­ing ho­molo­ga­tion, Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport ran a brace of Polo GTI R5s at last month’s Rally of Spain.

Driv­ers Pet­ter Sol­berg and Eric Camilli both ran at the front of the WRC2 pack, with Sol­berg scor­ing a podium af­ter Camilli was forced out of the class lead with a gear se­lec­tor prob­lem.

Ar­riv­ing at this point is, how­ever, what the pro­ject has all been about for Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport direc­tor Sven Smeets. “This is the start of a new chap­ter for Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport,” said Smeets. “This is a dif­fer­ent kind of pro­gramme for us. While we have the first car de­liv­ered, the work re­ally be­gins now. We know from our friends at Skoda Mo­tor­sport that one of the key el­e­ments in a pro­gramme like this is the sup­port for the cus­tomers, the sales and distri­bu­tion of parts and things like that – we’ve fo­cused very hard on that side of things.”

The next Po­los will be de­liv­ered to cus­tomers in Bel­gium, Italy, Fin­land, Por­tu­gal and Swe­den be­fore the end of the year.

Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­database.com

Baum­schlager takes the wraps off his new rally car The new VW Polo R5 ran on Rally Spain

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