Volkswagen Polo R WRC - world rally dominator four years in a row

  • Volkswagen Polo R WRC
  • Volkswagen Polo R WRC front

Volkswagen Polo R WRC is one of the most successful rally cars in the history of the World Rally Championship, with four consecutive double world titles in four seasons of using. In fact, if looking at the percentage of success, the Polo R WRC is the most successful car ever because it scored 43 wins in 52 rallies. There are few cars which scored more wins (Lancia Delta, Subaru Impreza, Ford Focus) but in a much longer time period than Polo.

VW Polo R WRC debuted in 2013 and immediately won the Manufacturers’ title for Volkswagen and Drivers’ title for Sebastien Ogier. The Frenchman repeated his triumph three more times, backed by other two Volkswagen drivers, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, who were on P2 and P3 for two years in a row (in 2014 and 2015). In 2016, Mikkelsen was third in the points while Latvala dropped to sixth place.

Volkswagen Polo R WRC Concept Car in 2011

Volkswagen Polo R WRC Concept Car in 2011

First top class Volkswagen rally car ever

Polo R WRC is the first top-class WRC-spec car in the history of Volkswagen Motorsport. It appeared at the World Rally Championship 25 years after the last Volkswagen official entry with Golf GTI in 1988. The development of the Volkswagen’s World Rally Car started in 2011 when Polo R WRC Concept Car was revealed. It showed the basic design for the future rally car while the technology was borrowed from the Škoda Fabia S2000 car, which subsidiary VW’s company already used in various competitions.

Ogier, Saint and Depping in the test crew for the new car

During the season 2012, Sebastien Ogier joined Volkswagen Motorsport. While competing in the WRC with Fabia S2000, he was participating in the development and testing of the new rally car for the 2013 season. His partners in the testing process were the VW development driver Dieter Depping and two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz.

1.6-liter turbo engine for rally Polo

The technical regulations of the WRC and Super 2000 cars were identical in many areas, so Volkswagen had an opportunity to test many components in a short time through their spare car with Škoda logo on it. The engineer’s attention was especially focused on the chassis and drivetrain, while the engine was completely new. Instead of a 2.0-liter engine in Fabia, Polo gets a 1.6-liter turbo engine.

VW Polo WRC test car in 2012

Polo WRC test car in 2012

Thousands of test kilometers all around the world

In spring of 2012, the Polo R WRC Test Car was produced and it ran through thousands of testing kilometers on the asphalt roads of Germany and France, in the snow of Norway and gravel roads in Spain and Portugal. One of the last tests was in the forests of Finland in September 2012. After that, the technical documentation was showed to FIA and the homologated car was ready for the competition.

Polo R WRC can match its rivals

According to the rules, the Polo R WRC is technically identical to rivals. The 1.6-litre turbo engine with an anti-lag system and 33-mm air restrictor produces about 320 hp and 439 Nm of torque. The weight of the car is 1,200 kg (without crew and fuel). The used transmission is the transversely mounted 6-speed sequential  gearbox with front and rear multi-plate limited-slip differential. The final drive is a permanent four-wheel drive with equal torque split between the front and rear axles.

Polo R WRC accelerates to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds. Its maximum speed is about 200 km/h, while it uses ventilated disc brakes for breaking (front 355 mm and rear 350 mm on asphalt, front and rear 300 mm on gravel).

VW Polo R WRC, 2013 Rally Sweden, Sebastien Ogier

First win for Polo at the 2013 Rally Sweden

Maiden victory for VW Polo R WRC at the 2013 Rally Sweden

The car made its debut at the 2013 Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2013 World Rally Championship. Ogier finished second, behind Sebastien Ogier in Citroen DS3 WRC. The maiden WRC victory for Polo R WRC was scored by Ogier in February at Rally Sweden.

Ogier and Latvala competed full season while Andreas Mikkelsen joined the squad in the Volkswagen Motorsport II team. In the 13-event season, Polo R WRC was the winning car ten times, with nine wins for Ogier and one win for Latvala. Volkswagen drivers reached the podium eight more times to secure the Manufacturers’ title for Volkswagen, while Sebastien Ogier won his first WRC title.

Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2014

In 2014, Polo won 12 of 13 WRC events

Fantastic streak of twelve WRC wins for Volkswagen

The upgraded car won the first eight consecutive rallies at the beginning of the 2014 season. When counting the previous season, VW Polo R WRC had twelve consecutive WRC victories, which was the new record. In total, Polo R WRC scored 12 wins in 13 WRC events during 2014, which was the unprecedented domination never seen before.

With eight wins and two more podiums, Ogier dominantly took his second title. Latvala was second, with four wins and four more podiums. Andreas Mikkelsen reached four podiums and finished third in the championship order. With three drivers on the top, Volkswagen took one more Manufacturers’ title.

Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2015, Ogier France, Latvala Finland, Mikkelsen Norway

The second generation of Polo R WRC came in 2015

Twelve wins for the second generation Polo in 2015

The car for the 2015 season was even more upgraded as if the second generation of Polo R WRC was created. It had a brand new gearbox, revised hydraulic system, a larger rear wing and substantial weight reduction. The new car continued to dominate in the World Rally Championship, starting with the podium sweep in the opening round at Monte-Carlo.

In 2015, Polo R WRC was again victorious in 12 of 13 events, with Sebastien Ogier winning eight times, Latvala added three wins and Mikkelsen scored his maiden WRC victory at Rally Catalunya in October.

VW Polo, 2016, Rally Finland

Polo R WRC at the 2016 Rally Finland

Polo continued to collect victories in 2016

The season 2016 was the last for the original Polo R WRC not only because a new generation of stronger cars were announced for 2017 but also because Volkswagen Motorsport surprisingly withdrew from the championship at the end of the season. After 34 WRC wins in three seasons, Polo R WRC continued its domination in 2016, adding nine more wins to its account. Ogier was the winner six times, Latvala just once and Mikkelsen two times.

Video : Sebastien Ogier tested the VW Polo R WRC 2017

The new generation of Polo R WRC was already developed and under testing regime, but financial difficulties caused by ‘Dieselgate’ forced Volkswagen management to rearrange motorsport activities for 2017. One of the results was the closure of WRC programme.

Photos: volkswagen-motorsport.com, youtube.com.

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