On the basis that VW have piles of cash to throw at this and there are only 2 works teams in the WRC - with a load of good drivers chasing seats - Kris Nissen's phone must be ringing off the hook...
Volkswagen has successfully started the tests with the new Polo R WRC. Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Volkswagen Board of Management for Technology, and the two-time World Rally Champion and Dakar winner Carlos Sainz (Spain) completed the first test kilometres in the vineyards of Veldenz near Trier, the location that normally plays host to the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, without any problems today. Prior to competing in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) from 2013 onward, Volkswagen will intensively test and continue to develop the four-wheel drive vehicle that delivers an output of about 300 HP.
‘The first test with the new Polo R WRC is a special moment and marks an important milestone in the preparations for our entry in the WRC,’ comments Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management for the Development Division. ‘We’re well on schedule and are now able to start testing our concepts and developments in reality. The WRC is the top category in rally sport and a great challenge for the team, the drivers and the technology. We’re taking on this challenge and will be making efficient use of the time before we start into our first competition.’
‘The first Polo represents a preliminary stage of the subsequent rally car and during the upcoming months will serve as a test vehicle for various components such as engines, gearboxes or suspension parts. The findings obtained in these tests will be directly fed into the first thorough-bred Polo R WRC,’ explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. ‘Next year we’ll be running an extensive testing programme on tarmac, gravel, mud and snow in order to prepare ourselves for the 2013 season as best we can.’
On the first test day Dr Ulrich Hackenberg and Carlos Sainz, both with co-driver Timo Gottschalk (Rheinsberg, Germany) at their side, drove some 100 kilometres on the 2.8-kilometre tarmac circuit. An initial functional test was followed by tuning and set-up work on the engine and the suspension, all of which was performed without any problems. ‘I immensely enjoy being involved in the development and testing of the new Polo R WRC – and having the privilege of driving the first kilometres is naturally a great honour,’ says Carlos Sainz. ‘The car is still in an early stage but already feels very good. For the whole team, whether engineers, mechanics or drivers, it’s very important to get to know the first real car as early as possible and to test and continue to develop it.’
In parallel to the tests with the Polo R WRC, Volkswagen is continuing its trial runs in the World Rally Championship. Next week the German Sepp Wiegand with Dakar winner Timo Gottschalk as co-driver and the Dutchman Kevin Abbring with co-driver Lara Vanneste will be competing in the Great Britain Rally in Wales (10–13 November). At the fourth WRC test run this year the Volkswagen factory team is again fielding two Fabia cars of the Group’s Škoda brand in order to evaluate talents and gather valuable experiences with the team at this famous gravel rally.