Volkswagen Motorsport has continued with preparations ahead of the Polo R WRC making its debut in 2013, completing a successful test at this weekend’s Rally de Espana. The factory team again fielded two Fabia S2000 cars of the Group’s Škoda brand in order to gather valuable experience in the top category of rally racing.
With German duo Christian Riedemann and Michael Wenzel, and Spaniards Yeray Lemes and co-driver Rogelio Peñate in the cockpits, two young driver pairings again had the chance to prove their skills in a professional environment on an international stage. And they successfully did so, with Lemes and Peñate claiming fourth place in class and 14th overall, while Riedemann and Wenzel crossed the finish ramp in Salou eighth in class and 20th in the overall classification.
‘We’ve got more than twelve months to go before our entry into the World Rally Championship. We’re using this time efficiently by participating in WRC rounds with vehicles of the Volkswagen Group’s Škoda brand and familiarising ourselves with the WRC in competitive conditions in parallel to the development of the Polo R WRC,’ says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. ‘Every rally has its own character. The special aspect of the Spanish rally is that the vehicles first run on gravel and then on tarmac, plus it has incredibly enthusiastic fans.’
Nissen continued: ‘Our two young pairings did well in the competition. Yeray Lemes in particular showed that he can keep the pace of the quickest cars in different terrain whereas Christian Riedemann was running well, especially on tarmac. For the whole Volkswagen team the participation in the rally has been a valuable experience and now we’re preparing for our next run in Wales.’
The 47th Rally de Espana featured a varied profile over a 406.52-kilometre distance of special stages. On Friday the gravel sections were on the agenda, which culminated in a spectacular night stage. On Saturday and Sunday the terrain changed to quick, winding tarmac roads. Here, Yeray Lemes and his co-driver Rogelio Peñate marked three fastest stage times at their home round, but lost the chances of clinching an even better result due to a puncture.
‘We’re more than pleased. We quickly got used to the car on gravel and were able to seriously attack on tarmac. The result makes us very happy, particularly in front of so many fans from my home region, the Canary Islands. I want to thank Volkswagen, we’d like to repeat this at another venue,’ said 24-year-old Lemes.
After competing in the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, this was Riedemann and Wenzel’s second run for Volkswagen. ‘In the beginning we didn’t do the best job of handling the gravel, but we learned from this. On tarmac we clearly managed to improve and were even able to keep the pace of the more experienced drivers some of the time,’ explained Riedemann as he summed up event.