VW thinks it has found cause of Polo fires, working on Italy fixes

Volkswagen Motorsport is confident it has found the cause of the fires that have hit its Polo GTI R5 cars recently

VW thinks it has found cause of Polo fires, working on Italy fixes

Three Polos caught fire last weekend; two on the Rally Portugal round of the World Rally championship - although Volkswagen said a fire that affected Ole Christian Veiby's car there was unrelated - and another on the Chablais Rally in Switzerland.

Following the firm's investigation into the fires, VW's technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison said the main issue sits with the 'roll-over' valve in the fuel tank.

Demaison has overseen the production of new parts that Volkswagen will start testing on Sunday, with the aim of having a technical update ready for crews to start the next WRC round in Italy just four days later.

"We have the safety valve, the 'roll-over' valve in the fuel cell," said Demaison.

"The breather is there by the FIA regulations, so when you roll, it does not allow the fuel to come out. Then, when we have fuel evaporation, it creates vapour in the tank and this escapes through the valve.

"When you have driving on the stage, acceleration, deceleration cornering and the creation of lateral g, this can get closed because of the fuel coming out.

"This is building pressure in the tank and that, along with the temperature from the [transmission] tunnel is causing the deformation of the fuel tank cover.

"The fuel tank cover is then coming into contact with the propshaft and this starts to smoke and smoulder.

"If you carry on driving, you transfer a lot of heat to the fuel cell and this can make mechanical damage on the tank, then the fuel leaks to the exhaust and that's the problem."

Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets said the FIA-supplied Total fuel was adding to the vapour in the tank.

"We see the Total fuel has more gas [than other fuels] at certain temperatures," said Smeets.

"It's not a problem for all the other cars to cope, but it seems this fuel has been a problem for us."

Volkswagen will add a second safety valve into its system, effectively doubling the Polo's capacity to reduce pressure in the tank.

As well as this, the plan is to reinforce the tank cover and exhaust with a steel support, optimise insulation in the area and increase the gap between the exhaust and the tank.

Demaison contacted the FIA with a request for the governing body to look into a further solution.

He added: "In World Rally Cars we have two breather lines [in the tank] and in R5s we have only one.

"This is a tricky one. I already made the request [for a second line for the R5 cars to the FIA], but they are reluctant to change the R5 rules when they have 600 or whatever cars out there.

"But, for safety reasons, maybe they will make it. Other teams can make it, so we should be able to make it.

"A second breather line would allow us to remove the pressure easier in the tank, to take more vapour away.

"We start to test the solution in Fontjoncouse [a rough gravel test centre in south-west France] on Sunday.

"We have designed the parts, made the calculations and now have to test.

"If we put all our resources on this we can do it, we did more than that in the past. It will have all our resources - we have no more coming back from [the ID R run at the] Nurburgring now."

Asked if he had seen a downturn in interest in the Polo since the fires, Smeets said: "I have to be very honest and say, until now, nobody has cancelled any car.

"Every customer says we will manage this problem very quickly and they are confident in what is a fast product. So, for the moment not and for this we are very grateful.

"We have to fix this."

shares
comments
Loeb to contest two national rallies in Hyundai i20 World Rally Car

Previous article

Loeb to contest two national rallies in Hyundai i20 World Rally Car

Next article

M-Sport reveals new, second-generation Fiesta R5 rally car

M-Sport reveals new, second-generation Fiesta R5 rally car
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium Plus

How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Plus

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Plus

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021