Malcolm Flynn | Dec 11, 2012

Volkswagen has revealed two Polo R WRC models; one for the road, and the other destined for the 2013 World Rally Championship (WRC).

We already knew the race version was coming - to front VW’s entry to top-level rallying next year - but the German giant’s Monte Carlo launch event also marked the official unveiling of the competition-ready racer.

The road-going Polo R WRC was also finally confirmed for production at the event, having been previewed as the Polo R WRC Street concept at the Wörthersee GTI Treffen show in May.

Like the concept, the production Polo R WRC uses a version of the Golf GTI’s 2.0 litre TSI turbo four, producing a Mk VII Golf GTI-matching 162kW/350Nm.

Claimed acceleration is half a second ahead of the 132kW/250Nm twincharged 1.4 litre Polo GTI, at 6.4 seconds from 0-100km/h.

The sole transmission choice will be a six-speed H-pattern manual, unlike the lesser Polo GTI’s DSG auto, and the WRC racer’s six-speed sequential unit.

The racer uses a 232kW/425Nm 1.6 litre turbocharged four and permanent all-wheel drivetrain to deliver 0-100km/h acceleration in the vicinity of 3.9 seconds.

Power from the road-going model will be sent through the front wheels only, dashing hopes of an all-wheel drivetrain and independant rear suspension setup as used by the the Polo R WRC’s limited-build Audi A1 Quattro mate.

Road-going Polo R WRCs will feature subtle visual links to their racing stablemate, including unique front and rear fascias, hatch spoiler, multi-spoke 18 inch wheels and a competition-inspired decal package.

The road-going version’s interior design closely mimics the Polo R WRC Street concept, with splashes of Alcantara and embroidered WRC logos used throughout.

Volkswagen plans to produce just 2500 examples of the road-going Polo R WRC in three door left-hand drive guise only - the latter precluding it from local availability.

The roadgoing Polo R WRC is available to order now in Europe, with first deliveries expected by September next year.

Its racing namesake will make its competition debut at the Rallye Monte Carlo WRC round on January 20.


WRC Promotion Future, Sponsorship Shuffle

Dietrich Mateschitz, head of the Volkwagen WRC team’s major backer Red Bull, has spoken of his company’s bid to take over promotion of the WRC itself this week.

Talk of Red Bull Media House’s WRC promotion ambitions was sparked in August this year, following the collapse of previous promoter North One Sport late last year.

Speaking with FIA magazine AUTO, Mateschitz confirmed his desire to shift the emphasis from WRC manufacturers to focus on the drivers themselves - a clear reaction to the withdrawal of Mitsubishi, Subaru, Peugeot, MINI, and now Ford in recent years.

"Big personality drivers are always important in any motorsport, which, of course, also means you can cover the various drivers’ profiles in the media and set priorities accordingly", Mateschitz said.

Mateschitz believes that the WRC sport has greater potential than realised by previous promoters, but remains realistic about Red Bull Media House’s ambitions.

“Only time will tell how it pans out and how successful our efforts will be", he added - with the plans yet to be officially inked.

This upheaval regarding the sport’s promotion is amid a shuffle of major sponsors among the WRC’s biggest teams.

Red Bull’s 2013 Volkswagen sponsorship marks a shift from the energy drink maker’s long-term support of the Citroen World Rally Team.

Citroen revealed its 2013 team livery last week, with Red Bull signage replaced by new backer Abu Dhabi - itself a previous long term backer of Ford’s WRC efforts.

In light of Ford’s withdrawal from WRC support for 2013, long-time Ford WRC constructor M-Sport announced last week that it will now compete with backing from Qatar in 2013.

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