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An Overview of VW’s Racing Division

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Rally Racing Topics:  Volkswagen

An Overview of VW’s Racing Division

Will Hope
24 May 2017


The VW Motorsport division is one with a fascinating history and, as things are currently looking, an interesting future too. The team originally competed in WRC between 1978 and 1990 where they used a number of different specs of the Golf, but they would then leave the sport. They made their return in 2011 and competed with the VW Polo R WRC between 2013 and 2016 where they were immensely successful, and then surprised the world by withdrawing from the FIA World Rally Championship in 2016.

The Glory Years

Since 2013, VW were using the Polo R WRC - a vehicle based on the popular Polo for use in the WRC. It was very successful from the get-go, winning an impressive 43 of the 53 rallies that it was entered into. Volkswagen Motorsport scooped the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers each year between 2013 and 2016, whilst driver Sebastien Ogier won the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers the same years.

Withdraw from WRC

Despite all of this success and developing a 2017-specification Polo R WRC to meet the huge overhaul of technical regulations for the 2017 season, VW then pulled out of the competition. This was to focus on customer-based competition and to develop future technologies for their automobiles. Interestingly, the German manufacturer states that they will make a return to rallying in 2018 with the development of an R5-specification Polo. It will be fascinating to see how VW fares when they return after walking away from their most successful chapter in motorsport history.

World Rallycross Championship

It is also an exciting period for VW in the World Rallycross Championship. Back in January of 2017, it was confirmed that dual world champion Petter Solberg had teamed up with Volkswagen after previously competing and winning as an independent. They developed the World RX Polo which was (unsurprisingly) based heavily on the dominant WRC Polo. This just goes to show what a superb design this vehicle has, with even the non-performance supermini vehicle remaining one of the most popular in its class. It is very easy to find these second hand, with places like Motorpoint being a good starting place.

It is an interesting time for VW’s racing divisions and it is clear that they have the winning formula. Although they will not be a part of WRC for a short period, it seems that there is a lot of success and trophies on the horizon.



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