After months of rumors and whispers, Volkswagen officially announced that it will enter a factory team to the World Rally Championship starting with the 2013 season. The announcement was made in Italy, where journalists had the chance to take a first look at the car VW will throw in the competition, the 300HP Polo R WRC, shown here as a prototype. Still under development, the rally-prepped supermini will be powered by a turbocharged, direct injection 1.6-liter TSI turbo engine and will use a four-wheel drive system. The four cylinder engine will develop around 300 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque (258 lb-ft) and will be fitted with a 33-millimeter air restrictor at high engine speeds, according to regulations. It will be paired to a sequential gearbox. The minimum dry weight of the car will be 1,200 kilograms (2,645 lbs).
As the pictures show, the Polo R WRC will have an aerodynamically-optimised body, with a massive wing at the back and extra-wide wheel-arches. Hopefully, we’ll see the “R” badge ending up on a road going version of the Polo as well.
The factory team will be run by Volkswagen Motorsport, the racing division that has won the past three Dakar rallies. Work on the vehicle concept design for the Polo R WRC started in February, while preparation of the first chassis is planned for later this year. The team will start an extensive testing program in 2012 and will familiarize with the WRC starting this year, as the VW group will enter Skoda cars at selected rally events at the end of the season.
Scroll down to watch the launch video of the Polo R WRC.
By Dan Mihalascu