This years RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España will see the competitive debut of the Volskwagen Polo GTI R5 as hits the unique mixed-surface routes of gravel and asphalt.
With Volkswagen pulling the plug on their World Rally Championship programme at the end of the 2016 season, the company have used its winning expertise to develop the ultimate customer car.
Sébastien Ogier’s former race engineer and Technical Project Lead Polo GTI R5, Gerard Jan de Jongh commented, “A customer car must almost be developed even more thoroughly than a World Rally Car for a works team. Once the car has been successfully homologated, a customer often does not have the opportunity to make any changes or test the car thoroughly.
“For this reason, we are taking the time to ensure that we supply our customers with a fully-developed and fast Polo GTI R5 in October”
With homologation set for the begining of October, this gives the engineers a little more time than originally planned to finese the car.
“The tests have gone well. The drivers who have tested the Polo GTI R5 have given very positive feedback,” said Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. “Despite this, we still want to change a few things before the car is finally homologated.”
“The Rally Spain is a very happy stomping ground for us,” added Smeets, “We celebrated our first world championship title here. You simply don’t forget moments like that. With its varying surfaces, the Rally Spain is obviously also excellently suited to a first really tough test under competitive conditions.”
In recent years, the rise of the R5 class has lead to some fiercely fought battles in the WRC2 class and across the world in championships such as ERC and BRC, the addition of Volkswagen strengthens this with Ford, Skoda and Hyundai already battling it out for glory.