Volkswagen rules out factory WRC2 team with new Polo R5
|By David Evans||Wednesday, April 5th 2017, 14:32 GMT|
Volkswagen has ruled out running a factory team in the World Rally Championship's WRC2 class when its new Polo R5 arrives during 2018.
The firm's VW Group stablemate Skoda has always run a works team with its Fabia R5s, whether in WRC2 or the European Rally Championship.
The new Polo R5 will mark VW's return to the WRC after the abrupt exit of its dominant top-class team last winter, but team principal Sven Smeets underlined it will be a purely commercial operation.
"The difference from Skoda is that we have no plans for a full WRC2 entry and no factory team for us," Smeets told Autosport.
"We will bring the car to the market and, of course, we will have to do some rallies with a good driver to show the potential of the car.
"Probably this will be one or two rallies in key markets where there is a lot of interest in R5."
Work on VW's first R5-specification car began last month and Smeets is confident it will be testing by late summer.
"We have started design work on the Polo and with a big push we want to be testing in August or September with homologation in June or July next year," he said.
Marcus Gronholm, the two-time world champion who did much of the development work on the Polo R WRC, is expected to return to work on the new car and recently tested the R5 Skoda.
"We have spoken briefly already, but we will know more when the testing is planned," Smeets said of Gronholm.
"He has been part of the Polo story for three years, he will be part of this one as well."
Smeets added there will be a strong alliance between VW and Skoda on the new Polo and Fabia R5s, both of which will run off a new platform road car.
"We will benefit from what Skoda has already done with the Fabia R5 and they will benefit from what we are doing now," he said.
"We've had a really open discussion on how to proceed with the project."