The first test miles were conducted by double World Rally and Dakar winner Carlos Sainz (Spain) as well as Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Volkswagen Board for Technology. The test took place in vineyards near Trier, the location that normally plays host to the WRC Rally Germany.
Hackenberg and Sainz, both with co-driver Timo Gottschalk, drove about 60 miles on the two-mile tarmac circuit. An initial function test was followed by tuning and set-up work on the engine and suspension, all of which was performed without any problems.
“I enjoy being involved in the development and testing of the new Polo R WRC – and having the privilege of driving the first kilometers was a great honor,’ said Sainz. “The car is still in an early stage but already feels very good.”
With the team swapping from its Skodas to the new 300hp Polo, it will test and continue to develop the four-wheel drive vehicle prior to competing in the FIA World Rally Championship from 2013 onward.
“The first test with the new Polo R WRC was a special moment and marks an important milestone in our preparations for entry in the WRC,” commented Hackenberg. “We’re on schedule to start testing our concepts and developments in reality. The WRC is a great challenge for the team, drivers and technology. We’re accepting this challenge and will make efficient use of the time before we start our first competition.”
“The first Polo represents a preliminary stage of the subsequent rally car. During the upcoming months it will serve as a test vehicle for various components such as engines, gearboxes and suspension parts. The findings from these tests will be directly fed into the first thoroughbred Polo R WRC,” explained Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “Next year we’ll be running an extensive test program on tarmac, gravel, mud and snow in order to prepare ourselves for the 2013 season as best we can.’
In parallel to the Polo tests, VW is continuing its trial runs in the WRC. This will see two cars entered in Rally Great Britain in Wales (10–13 November), featuring one Skoda Fabia driven by Sepp Wiegand with Dakar winner Timo Gottschalk as co-driver. The second car will be piloted by Kevin Abbring and Lara Vanneste.