Germany debut likely for Volkswagen's new Polo GTI R5 WRC car

Volkswagen has targeted Rally Germany in August 2018 for its return to the World Rally Championship with its new Polo GTI R5 in the WRC2 class

Germany debut likely for Volkswagen's new Polo GTI R5 WRC car

The R5 car marks VW's first rally programme since the emissions scandal led to it pulling out of the WRC's top division at the end of 2016 following four years of dominance, and it began testing this month.

Though VW has ruled out emulating sister brand Skoda in running a full-on factory WRC2 team, VW motorsport director Sven Smeets said the new car's debut rally would be with a works entry.

"We have planned we would like to do the first rally ourselves with an official car," Smeets told Autosport.

"We are targeting Rally Germany to do that."

Sources have suggested WRC2 champion Pontus Tidemand will drive the VW on its first event.

Tidemand joined VW veteran Raimund Baumschlager to conduct the Polo R5's maiden tests and has been retained by Skoda for 2018.

"We will use a good driver who is available," said Smeets. "It could be Pontus, but it could be somebody else."

Though VW's test in Wales earlier this month was curtailed by heavy snow, Smeets was encouraged by Tidemand and Baumschlager's early running.

"We got positive feedback from the drivers," said Smeets.

"The car is well born and a very good base to work on and develop it to an R5.

"We had some small issues, but nothing that stopped us for the whole day.

"On both days, we did close to 200km (124 miles) in the test.

"When the snow came in Sweet Lamb, it was better to cancel, running the car wouldn't have brought anything - we didn't have the correct snow tyres."

The Polo GTI R5 will make its first public appearance at Autosport International on January 11-14, where it features as part of the 2018 WRC launch.

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