Preparations have begun ahead of Volkswagen’s involvement in the FIA World Rally Championship with the Polo R WRC from 2013. The Volkswagen Motorsport team completed its first test on Rally Finland using a pair of 270hp Škoda Fabia S2000 SWRC cars.
The cars were driven by the Norwegian driver pair Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene as well as the Finnish duo Joonas Lindroos and Pasi Kilpeläinen. Unfortunately, both cars failed to finish their rally debut for W Motorsport, with Lindroos/Kilpeläinen retiring after rolling on the eighth special stage, and radiator damage ending the run of Mikkelse/Floene on the 17th stage.
“Despite the two retirements, the rally was a successful start for the entire team,” said VW Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “The service crews did an excellent job during their first event and the procedures functioned well. The driver pairings also did a great job. Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Ola Floene were particularly impressive and showed flashes of brilliance. In general, we collected valuable experience during this first rally weekend and learnt a great deal. We now look forward to competing in Rally Germany in August.”
Norwegian duo Mikkelsen/Floene put in a consistent performance throughout the weekend. The number 54 car ran in third position in the SWRC before a stone robbed all hopes of a podium. The stone penetrated the radiator on the Škoda S2000 and, despite Mikkelsen finishing the stage with the second fastest time in SWRC ahead of leader Juho Hänninen, it was not possible to continue driving. Mikkelsen also held 15th position in the overall WRC standings at the time. The weekend was more difficult for Lindroos/Kilpeläinen, with two accidents on the sixth and eighth stages ending any hope of running among the leaders in front of their home crowd.
The Volkswagen Motorsport team will continue compete in other rallies in 2011 with its Škoda cars. More drivers will be given the opportunity to qualify for a 2013 WRC seat in the Polo R WRC during these competitive rallies. In the next World Championship round in German (18-21 August in Trier), German driver Christian Riedemann and Heins Weijs from the Netherlands aim to showcase their ability.