Ahead of its appearance in the FIA World Rally Championship next year with the Polo R WRC, the Volkswagen World Rally Team have a found a novel way of 'practicing'. The new team contested last weekend's Neste Oil Rally Finland using two Škoda Fabia S2000 cars from the SWRC. The 270 bhp machines were driven by Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen and Finland's Joonas Lindroos.
Neither car made it to the end, but the exercise was still judged a great success. Lindroos rolled on the eighth test and Mikkelson was stopped by a holed radiator when a stone went through it on the 17th stage.
According to Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen: "The service crews did an excellent job during their first event and the procedures functioned very well. Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Ola Floene were particularly impressive and showed flashes of brilliance. In general, we collected valuable experience during this first rally weekend and learnt a great deal. We now look forward to competing in the ADAC Rally Germany in the middle of August."
The Volkswagen Motorsport team will compete in other selected rallies in 2011 using their Škoda machines. Other drivers are down to get a ride as VW intends to try out different drivers during this learning process. German driver Christian Riedemann and Heins Weijs from the Netherlands will get their chance on the next WRC round the ADAC German Rally (18-21 August) in Trier.
On this basis it sounds as thought VW means business, but then that's to be expected, they took the same long-term view of the Dakar Rallies and stuck with it till they won. Look out Citroen, Ford and MINI!