Presenting the second generation Polo R WRC.

A completely new look, a new gearshift and lots of technical fine-tuning: Volkswagen Motorsport is well prepared to tackle the new season with the second-generation Polo R WRC. The new model, which is a systematic further development of the successful racing car, had its world premiere at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg. When the drivers and co-drivers pulled the sheet away to reveal the Polo R WRC, there was general agreement among the trade press representatives there that the vehicle looked great. The previous main colour, white, has been replaced by a shade of dark blue at the front, with white and light blue stripes on the sides that merge into the vehicle’s white rear.

It’s not just on the outside that the Volkswagen engineers have made some significant changes – there are lots of technical innovations inside too, the most significant of which is the hydraulically controlled gearbox which is now operated by means of a gearshift paddle on the steering wheel. In addition, approximately three-quarters of the Polo’s parts have been checked and optimised, based on the developers’ product requirements document which stipulated the vehicle should be simpler, lighter and faster. The turbocharged engine now has output of 318 hp, up from the previous 315 hp.

The vehicle is therefore ready for the first event of the season, the Monte – and the team are champing at the bit, says Dr Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Volkswagen Board Member for Technical Development: “The focus was on efficiency, reliability and performance. We can hardly wait to see the new Polo R WRC competing in Monte Carlo and at the subsequent twelve rallies held on four continents.”

And what are the drivers’ opinions of their new work tool? The reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier is “absolutely optimistic that the new model will get off to just as good a start as its predecessor did”. The tests went well, he added, and the engineers had made the car a success.

Jari-Matti Latvala was equally full of praise: “The new car feels really good and I’m looking forward to tackling the new season. This year, we have a gearshift paddle on the steering wheel, which really suits me. On the whole, the new Polo is faster and better than its predecessor.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, who won’t get behind the wheel of the new Polo until Portugal, said the design was “totally cool”, and added that it wasn’t an issue for him to be starting the season in the 2014 model, because the winning car of 2014 more than proved its worth and was “anything but slow”.

The team principal, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito, is also happy: “Today has given us the final emotional lift. It’s fantastic that the Board of Management and the Volkswagen employees are supporting us so enthusiastically. There’s a great deal of interest in and support for motorsport within Volkswagen. Now we need to reward this with good results in the new season.”

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