ERC / WRC2 A FULL 2018
PRESS KIT C3 R5.
PRESS KIT C3 R5
INTERVIEW WITH FRANÇOIS WALES
Development Director, Customer Racing Vehicles
«WE STARTED FROM SCRATCH»
What were the specifications for the C3 R5?
Well, clearly, the idea was to start from scratch. Obviously, the aim was for it to be reliable and fast, especially given that the standard in the R5 class – which was already high a year and a half ago when we began development work – just keeps on going up as new competitors join the category.
What are the challenges posed by the R5 category?
There are many of them. First of all, there is very little room for manoeuvre (five upgrade tokens in the first 24 months, five others after) once the car has been homologated. It therefore has to be well designed from the outset. Similarly, in terms of the chassis and suspension systems, the number of potential interfaces is very limited. And yet we set ourselves the ambitious target of developing both the tarmac and gravel versions, opting for different designs. On tarmac, the front strut is angled towards the rear, whilst it leans forwards on gravel. We are the only manufacturer to have proceeded like this, and whilst it is fairly straightforward to do this in the WRC, it’s a lot less easy in the R5 class! Lastly, as regards the engine, the restrictor/pop-off valve combination makes these machines particularly complicated: everyone has more or less the required power and torque on the engine test bench, but the differences then come at the rallies, when factors like altitude and temperature vary, as well as in all the transition phases. This is why we invested in a much more powerful ECU, involving considerably more fine-tuning, but which has delivered very good results.
How did development work go?
Although the overall timing left us very little room for error, everything went well. We started work on preliminary project drawings at the end of 2016, but we didn’t really begin proper design work, based on the C3, until January 2017, the first road tests being held in September 2017. We haven’t had any issues with any of the major components since then. Engine endurance tests were completed without incident and we now have what is beginning to feel like a reasonable number of testing miles under our belt. We have tested on pretty much all types of tarmac and have defined a good basic set-up. The same goes for gravel, where we have held sessions at a wide variety of test bases. We are now going to use this year to fine-tune our set-up at specific events such as Monte-Carlo, Sweden, Finland, Wales GB and Germany.
A lot of drivers were involved in testing: Stéphane Lefebvre and Yoann Bonato, as well as the likes of Craig Breen, Kris Meeke, Yohan Rossel, Paolo Andreucci and Simone Tempestini. What was the aim?
We believe that a fast, powerful rally car must also be versatile, especially when it comes to a customer racing product. This is why we decided to use a small panel of drivers – so we could not only get a comprehensive view but also go quicker in understanding any areas that needed to be corrected on the car, by comparing several opinions.
Citroën Racing Team Principal
«The title is the aim for Stéphane Lefebvre!»
«The target we have set Stéphane Lefebvre in entering him in the WRC2 in the C3 R5 is to win the championship, in order to show the potential of the car, both in terms of performance and reliability on a wide variety of surfaces and in what is a highly competitive series. There is a considerable sales & marketing side to it too. Stéphane will be in the spotlight, showcasing the brand. He has two undeniable assets, starting with the fact that he participated in a large part of the development testing. So he knows the car well and will be sharp coming into the rallies, especially as each time, he will have a pre-event test. He also has experience of the events since he contested most of them last year in the WRC. After the Tour de Corse, he will be competing in Portugal and Sardinia, and then we’ll see what happens after that. In any case, we have faith in his speed, and in his consistency, to get the most out of our new flagship product.»
A ROOT AND BRANCH REVIEW WITH PROMISING RESULTS!
Following last year’s introduction of the C3 WRC, 2018 is set to see the competitive debut of the R5 version of Citroën’s muscular city compact, this time aimed at the customer racing market. To ensure it is competitive in the WRC-2 – the feeder category to the WRC – and in the various FIA regional championships (ERC and MERC), as well as in the wide array of national championships, Citroën Racing has undertaken a root and branch review of the design, producing a radically different car to its predecessor. Led by Olivier Maroselli, an experienced engineer renown for having developed several accomplished rally cars, the team of twenty or so people involved in the project started from scratch, in order to be sure of making the best technical choices. This approach was also guided by the fact that the standard in the category is higher than ever before, with several high-profile manufacturers seriously involved. The main challenge concerns the regulations, which are much more restrictive than in the WRC as regards homologation, competitors only being allowed five upgrade tokens in the first two years (only two of which are allowed for safety or reliability reasons) and then five more in the next two years. This is why is so important to get things right first time! In other words, produce a reliable and fast car from the outset. After the traditional design stage in the engineering office, in September 2017 – date on which the car’s first road tests were held – the project team therefore began work testing the car in the wide range of conditions that make rallying such a great but also difficult sport. To assess its handling with a wide variety of grip levels and therefore fine-tune the set-up, the tarmac version of the C3 R5, fitted with its large eighteen-inch tyres, was put through its paces on the demanding roads of Corsica, as well as in the east (Vosges) and south (Tarn) of mainland France. The car also had its first outing in a competitive setting as one of the zero cars at the Rallye du Var in November of last year, driven by Yoann Bonato. A full-scale test session that proved highly successful, both in terms of its popularity with the fans and the times posted by the car. Meanwhile, work continued on the version intended for use on gravel – the most common surface in the WRC – with sessions conducted on gravel roads in Fontjoncouse, near Narbonne, Cardona in Spain and Mazamet, to the north of Carcassonne, all renown for providing cars with a very serious examination. Six thousand kilometres of testing later, Citroën Racing is now able to present an accomplished product, the development of which will be fine-tuned on some very specific surfaces. Further test sessions are scheduled for later this year. Designed for the most ambitious talented young rally drivers as well as gentlemen drivers, teams with international aspirations and those with more modestly-sized operations, this car is all about competitiveness, endurance, versatility and ease of maintenance. But don’t take our word for it, judge for yourself…
Developed in-house, the engine represented an enormous challenge for Citroën’s technical team. «We set ourselves some very ambitious targets,» explained Olivier Maroselli, the project manager. «Targets that we have met by working in three major areas. First of all, reliability and heat management with all the internal parts of the engine, which proved to be very sophisticated. We also paid very special attention to the cylinder head, to increase permeability as much as possible on the intake and exhaust ducts. The last major area of development was the car’s electronics, with a more advanced ECU than what we have had in the past. On the one hand, the purpose of this was to have a much more functional anti-lag system and therefore get much better response from the accelerator during in-gear acceleration. But the idea was also to be constantly as close to the maximum authorised booster pressure, without opening the pop-off valve, which always has a highly detrimental effect on power. All of this means that the engine is now undoubtedly one of the car’s major strengths. All the drivers were in agreement that the car has bags of torque, but we also know that it is also well placed in terms of power, with a higher rating than its rivals.»
The C3 R5 is fitted – like its famous big sister, the WRC – with a Sadev gearbox. However, the similarities end there, the model used for the C3 R5 having been specially designed for the specific requirements and constraints of the category. «It’s a question of safety, really,» commented Olivier Maroselli. «Although some of the internal components are familiar, and therefore tried and tested, we nonetheless chose to design our own architecture. Our packaging is different in terms of both the width and the height of the gearbox outlets. This is because they have a direct influence on the transmission angles, and therefore the maximum travel allowed. We therefore paid very special attention to this point.»
CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION SYSTEMS
Like its big sister, the C3 WRC, the C3 R5 has two different front suspension geometries depending on whether it is being used on tarmac or gravel. The idea is, in each situation, to optimise both versions of Citroën’s iconic new model, with the chassis and suspensions systems meeting the specific constraints of the surface in question. «As the number of interfaces authorised between the hub carrier, the strut, the suspension arm and the toe rod are very limited, this was no mean feat,» explained Olivier Maroselli. «But we chose to incline the strut towards the rear on tarmac, for the purposes of kinematics, and towards the front on gravel, mainly to do with travel. This is another of the car’s strengths, because we didn’t have to compromise on the designs chosen at all. We were also determined to ensure all of these parts were at the minimum weight. This involved using Reiger shock absorbers. Not only are they very fine-looking products, which provide plenty of room for manoeuvre when it comes to defining the appropriate set-up, but their aluminium struts also helped us to keep the weight down.»
EASE OF MAINTENANCE
Constantly attentive to the concerns of its customers, Citroën Racing were equally determined to ensure the best possible maintenance conditions for the C3 R5, whilst also paying special attention to the durability of the parts selected. «Yes, this was clearly one of the areas we worked on, without however compromising on performance,» admitted Olivier Maroselli. «The gearbox and the front end, for example, can be removed very easily. We have also made a lot of progress on the bodywork, by investing in multi-material technology so that there are rubberized components in all the lower parts of the bumpers and in some areas on the wings. They are therefore more resistant to wear and distortion. Similarly, we covered a lot of miles in tests on really rough gravel surfaces such as at Fontjoncouse, and we noted a vast improvement in the ageing of the body and all of the subframe. Damage to consumable parts, like the protective skidplate, is at a really very good level and that is undoubtedly a plus for running costs.»
STÉPHANE LEFEBVRE / GABIN MOREAU
A pure product of French promotional formulas, Stéphane made his rallying debut in 2010 at just eighteen years old, making a name for himself in 2012 when he finished as overall runner-up and won the junior category in the «Volant Peugeot 207». His performance earned him a place in the European Rally Championship as part of the Peugeot Rally Academy in 2013, whilst he again finished second overall and first in the Junior class in the 208 Rally Cup. 2014 proved to be an incredibly successful year for Stéphane: he won both the Junior WRC and the WRC3 titles in a DS3 R3, and won the ERC Junior crown in a 208 R2. His potential was such that Citroën Racing decided to gamble on him and instead of contesting just six races in the WRC2 – as initially planned – the JWRC winner competed in all thirteen rounds of the World Championship in 2015, five of which in a DS3 WRC. The highlights of his season came in Germany, where his finished tenth on his WRC debut, and at Wales Rally GB, where he grabbed eighth position. In 2016, the talented young Frenchman began working with co-driver Gabin Moreau, at the same time as joining the Abu Dhabi Total WRT in order to continue honing his skills. He made the perfect start to the season with fifth place in Monte-Carlo, before then producing some promising times in Portugal and Poland. However, his progress was brought to an abrupt halt in Germany in mid-August by a violent crash, which left him on the sidelines until the end of October. Gabin, meanwhile, had to wait until the end of November before he could return to competitive action. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT renewed their faith in the pair for 2017 and the launch of the C3 WRC. After a tough start to the year, they enjoyed a strong second half to the season, finishing fifth in Poland, sixth in Catalonia and setting some good times in Australia. At the same time, they also played an active role from the outset in the development programme of the C3 R5, Citroën’s latest customer racing product, and took part in the majority of the test sessions. For 2018, armed with experience acquired in the world championship in four-wheel drive cars, Stéphane and Gabin have been tasked by Citroën Racing with showing off the C3 R5’s qualities in the highly competitive WRC2 class.
STÉPHANE LEFEBVRE IN FIGURES
Date and place of birth: 16 March 1992 in Noeux-les-Mines (France)
Competitive debut: 2010
First WRC rally: 2013 Rallye de France
Number of WRC starts: 34
Best result in the WRC : 5th (Monte-Carlo in 2016 and Poland in 2017)
GABIN MOREAU IN FIGURES
Date and place of birth: 28 September 1988 in Saint-Martin-d’Hères (France)
Competitive debut: 2005
First WRC rally : 2013 Rallye de Portugal
Number of WRC starts: 20
Best result in the WRC: 5th (Monte-Carlo in 2016 and Poland in 2017)
THREE QUESTIONS FOR MAYEUL TYL
Peugeot Citroën Racing Shop Manager
What sort of welcome can C3 R5 customers expect here?
I think it’s safe to say we will be really looking after them! We already have about twenty confirmed orders, from France, of course, but also from Belgium, the UK, Spain and Portugal, which just goes to show how successful the car has been throughout Europe. However, it has already become popular outside of Europe since we have also had a lot of potential interest from elsewhere, particularly including requests from Latin America. It is true, of course, that it was designed to impress on all surfaces and locations! However, so that we can be sure of providing the very best in quality of service, we have deliberately limited our assembly capabilities to about thirty cars this first year, before ramping up to close to seventy next year. After that, we’ll adapt according to market demand.
In what specification is the car sold?
The aim is that the car is pretty much ready to go and set times straight away! It is therefore sold fully-assembled, with equipment that meets the highest market standards. By which I mean lamp pods, two spare tyres, a set of wheel rims, intercom/radio, helmet storage net, co-driver torch, harness cutter, a collection of shims, springs, and there are doubtless other items I’ve omitted.
What customer follow-up is planned for the launch?
Obviously, we have a dedicated team of technical advisors, and as part of the market launch of the C3 R5, they will be available as much as possible to provide on-the-ground support and advise the crews and teams as they get used to their new machine. They are equally capable of guiding the drivers about set-up options as advising the mechanics if they are unsure as to how to carry out a technical operation of one kind or another.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS C3 R5
Structure Reinforced body with welded, multi-point roll cage
Bodywork Steel and composite fibre
Type Citroën Racing – 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection engine with FIA regulated 32mm restrictor
Bore x stroke 77×85.8 mm
Maximum Power 282bhp at 5,000rpm
Maximum torque 420Nm at 4,000rpm
Specific output 178bhp/litre
Distribution Double overhead camshaft valve train driven by chain, 4 valves per cylinder
Fuel feed Direct injection controlled by SRG Magneti Marelli unit
Type Cerametallic Twin-disk
Type Four-wheel drive
Gearbox Sadev Five-speed sequential – Manual control
Differential Front and rear mechanical, self-locking
Front Ventilated disks, 355mm (tarmac) and 300mm (gravel), Alcon 4-pistons calipers
Rear Ventilated disks, 355mm (tarmac) and 300mm (gravel), Alcon 4-pistons calipers
Handbrake Hydraulic control
Shock absorbers REIGER three-way adjustable shock absorbers (low-and-high-speed compression and rebound)
Type Hydraulic power-assisted steering
Tarmac 8×18″ wheels – Michelin tyres
Gravel 7×15″ wheels – Michelin tyres
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES
Length / Width 3,996mm / 1,820mm
Wheel base 2,567mm
Track 1,618 mm (front and rear)
Fuel tank 81 litres
Weight 1,230kg without driver pairing (regulations) / 1,390kg with driver pairing (regulations)
Media Citroën Racing
Admin and Translation:
Media & Comunication Top Run Motorsport
Media & Comunication TEIN Motorsports
Rally Report Magazine Argentina
26 March 2018
Photos: Media Citroën Racing
POLO GTI R5: GERARD-JAN DE JONGH BY VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT – INTERVIEW SPECIAL
WRC 2 A FULL 2018
POLO GTI R5: GERARD-JAN DE JONGH BY VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT – INTERVIEW SPECIAL.
Two years in development, roughly 10,000 kilometres of testing.
As a race engineer, he guided Sébastien Ogier to four titles in the World Rally Championship (WRC) between 2013 and 2016. Nowadays, Dutchman Gerard-Jan de Jongh is responsible for the Polo GTI R5 in his role as project leader at Volkswagen Motorsport. The 200-kW (272-PS) rally car will, in the future, be run by professional teams in the FIA World Rally Championship, interregional series like the FIA European Rally Championship, and national championships. In an interview shortly before the planned homologation on 1 October, 40-year-old de Jongh describes the challenges of the R5 regulations. The engineer also gives an overview of the development steps behind the Polo GTI R5 and looks ahead to the car’s competitive debut at the Rally Spain at the end of October.
Mr. de Jongh, for several years you were Sébastien Ogier’s race engineer at Volkswagen Motorsport. Do you miss the competitive outings?
My role as project leader for the development of a completely new rally car is obviously very different. I had the opportunity to continue to work as a race engineer, but found this new challenge at Volkswagen Motorsport very appealing. My job was suddenly far more complicated and complex than before. I am pleased that I took on this challenge.
When did you start to develop the Polo GTI R5?
In the week after the Rally Australia in November 2016, the last world championship event for the WRC team at the time. I started as soon as I got back to my office. The idea came from François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport.
Demaison is known as a perfectionist. How heavily involved was he in your work?
FX (Demaison’s nickname) is currently responsible for four different projects. Despite this, he has still been very heavily involved in the development of the Polo GTI R5, right from the word go. We have had weekly meetings from the outset, at which we have discussed the further development of the car. FX is one of the most experienced engineers in rallying. His backing really helped me and the whole development team.
What form did the first steps take in the development of the Polo GTI R5?
I first thought about the basic concept of the Polo GTI R5, after which we came up with a design briefing. The next task was to find the right suppliers for the car components that are not made at Volkswagen Motorsport. In this regard, we were able to turn to a whole string of reliable contacts, with whom we worked on the Polo R WRC. They include Xtrac for the gearbox, Bosch for the engine electronics, ZF Sachs for the shock absorbers, and Alcon for the brakes.
How big was the team that developed the Polo GTI R5?
At Volkswagen Motorsport, we have design teams for the chassis, engine and suspension, each consisting of three to six employees. The work was divided between the team members. I was mainly in contact with the heads of department, but also with the designers. Experience has shown me that there is nothing better than personal contact.
What were the basic parameters for the development of the Polo GTI R5?
It was clear that the Polo GTI R5 had to be based on the 2017 generation of the production car. However, the new sixth generation Polo was not yet available when we started to develop the rally car. For this reason, we had to work exclusively with computer data. Thanks to the computer simulation, we had the chassis ready relatively early on in proceedings. We were then able to work with that in the wind tunnel. When defining the specification, we also placed great importance on ensuring that it was possible for private teams to look after the technical side of the Polo GTI R5 without any problems.
How many components were you able to adopt from the Polo R WRC?
Hardly any at all, because the technical regulations are completely different and the Polo R WRC was based on the previous model. However, we did adapt the design philosophy. For example, the mounting position of the shock absorbers, the spring deflection, the geometry of the suspension, and the position of the driver’s seat are similar. Exactly as we did with the Polo R WRC, we strived to make every single component as light as possible, in order to keep the car’s centre of gravity as low as possible. Here too, however, we were restricted by the regulations. Price limits are specified for many parts and a minimum weight is often stipulated – for the bodyshell, for example.
The International Automobile Federation FIA specifies a fixed budget for R5 cars …
… and sticking to this budget with an R5 car like the Polo GTI R5 actually represents a major challenge. It would obviously be possible to build a more effective car within the framework of the technical regulations. However, that would be too expensive and would have to come at a sacrifice. That is out of the question for our company and would not be in the interest of the sport. We have gained similar customer sport experience in touring car racing with the Golf GTI TCR. We were able to build on that for the R5. Furthermore, the regulations stipulate the use of production parts in certain areas, including the steering, radiator, drive shafts, cardan shaft and the engine.
Where did you have to make compromises?
Weight is a big issue with any racing car. As a rule, however, the lighter a part is the more expensive it is. As such, I had to make sure that the suppliers, with whom we wanted to cooperate, understood that we would have to find a compromise between performance and cost. Let’s take a part of the suspension, for example. In simple terms, we designed 90 percent of the part. We then took this design to the potential suppliers and asked them what price they would be able to supply the part for? The important thing was the quantity. We sometimes only needed a handful of the components for the Polo R WRC. In the case of the Polo GTI R5, which is designed for customer sport, we are talking about 50, 100 or even more parts. That obviously has a big influence on the price.
1.6-litre turbo engines are required in the R5 class. However, the production version of the Polo does not have this kind of engine …
The regulations do give us more leeway in this regard. The rules state that the rally car’s engine must stem from one of the group’s production models. We opted for the engine with the internal code EA888, a similar form of which, with a two-litre displacement, is also installed in the new Polo GTI. It was then modified accordingly for the Polo GTI R5.
How long have you been testing with the Polo GTI R5, and which drivers were involved in the tests?
The first test took place in November 2017 at the test facility in Fontjoncouse, France. Since then, Volkswagen test and development driver Dieter Depping, Pontus Tidemand, former world rally champions Petter Solberg and Marcus Grönholm, Raimund Baumschlager, Eric Camilli, and Emil Lindholm have all driven the car. The test programme was demanding: temperatures ranged from – 16 °C to +40 °C and the testing took place at sea level and at 2,800 metres in the mountains. We tested in such varied conditions, in order to ensure that our customers receive a car that performs reliably at all times and everywhere. We also wanted to gauge the opinion of drivers with different driving styles, as well as asphalt and gravel experts. The Polo GTI R5 must be versatile and driveable by the widest possible range of drivers. In total, we will have completed about 10,000 test kilometres by the time the car makes its competitive debut – roughly half of those were on gravel and half on asphalt, as well as a few on snow and ice.
The Polo GTI R5 will make its competitive debut at the end of October at the Rally Spain, the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship. What are your expectations?
We will run two Polo GTI R5s, in order to show the potential of the car. The goal is to demonstrate how competitive the new Polo GTI R5 is at the highest level and on different surfaces. The Spanish round of the world championship is particularly well suited to this, as it is the only one held on both asphalt and gravel. However, we are well aware, from our time with the Polo R WRC in the FIA World Rally Championship, that good planning does not guarantee good results – particularly in rallying. We would be pleased with a good result in WRC2.
In Eric Camilli and Petter Solberg, Volkswagen will have two experienced drivers at the wheel of the Polo GTI R5 at the Rally Spain. Why did you choose these two?
Eric Camilli and his co-driver Benjamin Veillas played a key role in the development of the Polo GTI R5. Both have a wealth of experience in the WRC2 class of the FIA World Rally Championship and finished runner-up in 2017. For them to be involved in the competitive debut of the Polo GTI R5 is the logical next step. Plus, we really value their detailed feedback and analytical approach. Petter Solberg was also involved in the development of the Polo GTI R5. He is one of the most experienced rally drivers in the world and his knowledge is a big plus for any team. Furthermore, he is associated with Volkswagen Motorsport through his team’s commitment in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX). It is a special honour and great to have him driving the Polo GTI R5 at the Rally Spain.
Media Volkswagen Motorsport
Photos: @Media Volkswagen Motorsport
18 October 2018
PETTER BACK TO THE WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP WITH VOLKSWAGEN
WRC 2 A FULL 2018
PETTER BACK TO THE WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP WITH VOLKSWAGEN.
Petter back to the World Rally Championship with Volkswagen
World Rally Champion to drive Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 in Spain
Petter delighted to be back in the series where he won his first world title
Salou-based event will be the debut rally for Volkswagen’s all-new Polo GTI R5
Petter Solberg will return to the World Rally Championship to drive Volkswagen Motorsport’s Polo GTI R5 at Rally de España next month.
The Norwegian, who won the WRC title in 2003, will join the factory Volkswagen Motorsport team alongside Eric Camilli (FRA) for its one-off outing at the Salou-based event from October 25-28.
Petter, who first tested the Polo GTI R5 in Sweden at the start of the season, will test the car ahead of his rally return.
Since departing the World Rally Championship, Petter has focused his efforts on the World Rallycross Championship, where he won two more FIA world titles (2014/15). For the last two years, Petter’s own team – PSRX Volkswagen Sweden – has worked closely with Volkswagen Motorsport; the squad’s Polo R Supercars are prepared ahead of each World RX round in Hannover.
Petter said: “I think everybody knows about my passion for rallying and when Sven [Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport director] asked me if I would like to do Spain in the Polo, I jumped at the chance.
“When I drove the car in January, I didn’t want to stop. Everything about the Polo GTI R5 worked from the very beginning. To be in the car for the very first time is a real privilege for me – I’m very happy that Volkswagen trusted this job to me and to Eric [Camilli].”
Norway’s Veronica Engan will co-drive Petter, having worked alongside him at his January test of the Polo GTI R5. Veronica is well acquainted with the Solberg family –she’s normally found co-driving Petter’s son Oliver.
Petter’s illustrious WRC career spanned 14 years and 188 starts. He won 13 of those events, scored 54 podiums and collected 457 stage wins and 852 points.
Beyond the numbers, Petter remains one of the sport’s most popular drivers and going back to Salou is bound to bring a range of emotions.
“This is the place where I did my last event before I decided to switch to rallycross,” said Solberg. “It will be fantastic to be back, especially with this car and team. The chance to drive Volkswagen’s Polo GTI R5 on gravel and asphalt in the WRC’s only mixed-surface event is a challenge I can’t wait to start. I have seen what Volkswagen Motorsport does from the inside in World RX and it’s going to be a real pleasure to work with them in rallying.
“As well as that, it will be great to see some old friends and fans again. Spain was always one of the events I really loved, the passion and atmosphere there is just fantastic.”
Being a natural competitor, Petter will have an eye on the times at an event where he finished second overall in 2010.
“I know how good the Polo GTI R5 is,” said Petter, “and I think people know I’m not just going there to drive around. It’s an honour to join the team for this event and I will go there to do my best and push as hard as I can.”
Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets said: “Petter is a true rally hero. We have already experienced his passion and professionalism working alongside him in World Rallycross. To give everything, always 110 per cent is Petter’s trademark.
“He tested the Polo GTI R5 and, from the beginning, it was our dream to have him in the car to give this new customer rally car its debut. It’s fantastic that he joins us in Spain to drive the Polo R5; I’m sure everybody is looking forward to seeing him back again – and our new car.
“For sure, everybody in Volkswagen Motorsport is excited to be working on a rally and on this special event with Petter and our second driver Eric Camilli.”
Rally de España startswith a spectacular opening stage in Barcelona before moving into day one’s dirt stages in the Tarragona hills. For the weekend, it’s all about the racetrack-smooth roads inland from the service park at Salou’s popular holiday park PortAventura.
Petter will face 18 stages on a 1,496 kilometres (929 miles), of which 331km (205 miles) are competitive.
Media Volkswagen Motorsport
Photos: Media Volkswagen Motorsport
Copyright © 2018 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Media Office, All rights reserved.
18 October 2018
WRC COMEBACK WITH VOLKSWAGEN: PETTER SOLBERG TO DRIVE THE NEW POLO GTI R5 IN SPAIN
WRC 2 A FULL 2018
WRC COMEBACK WITH VOLKSWAGEN: PETTER SOLBERG TO DRIVE THE NEW POLO GTI R5 IN SPAIN.
VOLKSWAGEN IN CUSTOMER RACING
WRC comeback with Volkswagen: Petter Solberg to drive the new Polo GTI R5 in Spain
2003 world rally champion returns to the scene of his last WRC Rally
Three world champions in one rally: Sébastien Loeb, Sébastien Ogier and Petter Solberg
Debut for the new Polo GTI R5 for customer sport only planned outing as works team
Wolfsburg (20 September 2018). He’s back! 2003 champion Petter Solberg (N) returns to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Solberg and co-driver Veronica Engan (N) will compete in the WRC 2 class at the Rally Spain in Catalonia from 25 to 28 October. Six years after his last rally in 2012, the Norwegian will make his comeback in precisely the same place, at which he called time on his rally career. Solberg, who drives a Polo for his PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX), will briefly change fields. The new Polo GTI R5 will make its competitive debut at the Rally Spain, which will be the car’s only outing with the Volkswagen works team. The racing car will then be run by customer teams in national and international championships, in accordance with R5 regulations.
“The opportunity to make a WRC comeback with Volkswagen is a unique one, and I was very happy to accept the offer,” said Solberg. “When I drove the car in January in Sweden, I didn’t want to stop. Everything about the Polo GTI R5 worked from the very beginning. I am really looking forward to the Rally Spain. I always used to like the combination of gravel and asphalt. It will obviously be a special feeling to return to the place I brought the curtain down on my rally career back in 2012. It will be a fantastic reunion with the WRC Family, but one with a professional background. I obviously want to get the R5 Polo off to a good start with a good result.”
Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets: “Petter is a true rally hero. We have already experienced his passion and professionalism working alongside him in World Rallycross. To give everything, always 110 per cent is Petter’s trademark. He has tested the Polo GTI R5 and has always been one of our preferred candidates for the debut of our new customer sport car. It is fantastic that he will drive the R5 Polo in Spain. Everyone in the team is looking forward to the rally and to working with Petter and his team-mate Eric Camilli.”
Petter Solberg returns to his rallying roots
Solberg returns to the WRC from the WRX for a weekend. This sees the Norwegian return to his rallying roots. Between 1998 and 2012, he made 188 appearances in the World Rally Championship – with Toyota, Ford, Subaru and Citroën. In 2003, Solberg won the world championship title with Subaru, ending the season just one point ahead of eventual record-breaking champion Sébastien Loeb and third-placed Spaniard Carlos Sainz. He remains the last nordic world rally champion. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Solberg competed in the WRC with his own team. He then spent one final year as a works driver with Ford in 2012. Solberg claimed 52 podium results in the World Rally Championship, 13 of them victories. The Rally Spain marks Solberg’s first rally with Volkswagen, and his debut in an R5 car.
Three world champions in one WRC rally for the first time for eight years
Solberg is the third world rally champion set to drive at the 2018 Rally Spain, where he will line up against reigning champion Sébastien Ogier and the returning Sébastien Loeb. As such, the last three men to win the title will all compete in Spain – albeit in different classes. The last time three world champions raced at the same event was the 2010 Rally Finland (Loeb, Solberg, Kankkunen).
Solberg and Volkswagen in the WRX – an extremely successful combination
After switching from WRC to WRX, the 43-year-old won the Drivers’ title in both 2014 and 2015. Volkswagen Motorsport and Petter Solberg’s PSRX team announced a partnership at the start of 2017. This has proven to be a winning combination: the team took the Team title and was behind the world champion, Johan Kristoffersson (S), in its very first year. Volkswagen is responsible for the development and technical preparation of the two Polo R Supercars, while PSRX Volkswagen Sweden looks after the logistics, on-site running of the car, and the marketing side of things. Solberg remains the only driver to have won the Drivers’ title in two different FIA world championships.
The Solberg dynasty: drifting and full throttle are in the blood
Solberg originally wanted to be a painter – however, he gave up his training place for motorsport. The rally pedigree within his family tree is evidence of the fact that speed is in his blood. “Mr. Hollywood” comes from an extremely successful dynasty of rally drivers: his parents both successfully took part in Autocross races. His brother Henning Solberg recently claimed the best result for an R5 car in the overall standings at the Rally Turkey – sixth place – and can also look back on an eventful WRC career. When Petter married his wife Pernilla, the Solbergs joined forces with the Walfridsson family – already an established name on the Rallycross and rallying scene. Pernilla was long regarded as one of the best female rally drivers in the world. It is no wonder then that their son Oliver has already enjoyed great success as he follows in his parents’ footstep – including in the FIA Baltic Rally Trophy and the Latvian and Estonian Rally Championship.
Already part of the family: Veronica Engan in the co-driver seat at the Rally Spain
The choice of co-driver for the Rally Spain was an obvious one. Veronica Engan has competed alongside son Oliver in various R2 rallies since 2017, and is virtually a member of the family. The 34-year-old can point to roughly 150 starts with Nordic rally drivers, including Eyvind Brynildsen (N), Marius Aasen (N), Johan Kristoffersson (S), Bernt Kollevold (N) and Anders Grøndal (N). Her career started in 2003, since when she has 27 WRC and seven WRC 2 rallies to her name. Her best result came in 2009, when she finished seventh alongside Mads Østberg at the Rally Italy on Sardinia.
Petter Solberg’s career at a glimpse
Date/place of birth: 18 November 1974 in Askim (N)
2003: 1st place FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
2002, 2004 and 2005: 2nd place FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
2010: 3rd place FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
2014, 2015: 1st place FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX)
188 rallies, 52 podium finishes (13 wins)
459 stage wins
852 championship points
Media Volkswagen Motorsport
Photos: Media Volkswagen Motorsport
18 October 2018
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