POLOR5 TO FEATURE IN EUROPEAN SERIES
First new vw cars are delivered to customer teams
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.
Baumschlager takes the wraps off his new rally car The new VW Polo R5 ran on Rally Spain