WRC 2 A FULL 2019
NUMBER 003 IS ALIVE: NEW POLO GTI R5 FROM VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT.
VOLKSWAGEN IN CUSTOMER RACING
Number 003 is alive.
The Polo GTI R5 gives an exclusive glimpse behind the scenes.
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is W09598202JHV16003, but my friends simply call me 003. Those are the final three numbers of my ID. Or perhaps I should say, my vehicle identification number? Anyway, I am the third member of the growing Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 family.
I only met my brothers, 001 and 002, briefly. In the Volkswagen Motorsport factory hall in Hannover. They both looked pretty tired. They had probably just arrived back from work. I picked up that it had something to do with Spain, a trophy and champagne.
Whatever, that was before I was born. Let’s turn to my career. Three guys from Volkswagen Motorsport spent about a week assembling me out of many individual parts. I’m not one to brag, but I do look pretty good – and not just on the outside. Steel tubes run back and forth through my body. This is to offer the necessary protection, should anything go wrong. At that point, I still had no idea where my journey would take me. Nobody had breathed a word about it. Top secret, and all that.
Marriage before the birth
One major event was the so-called marriage – the moment they gave me my heart. An epic event, but the mechanics rather unromantically just referred to it as installing the engine. Ok, it’s hard to imagine something generating 200 kW (272 PS) as a heart. But then, it is also rather odd to describe something as a marriage before you have officially been born …
No sooner was the engine in place than we got down to business. They pushed me out of the lovely warm hall. First into a dark trailer. Shortly after that, into the cold, late autumn air in Lower Saxony.
I need to get used to uncomfortable working conditions, so the guy in the cockpit said. That was Dieter Depping. Test driver and, before my time, multiple German rally champion. And that’s not all. He seems to be the man for all occasions at Volkswagen. Rarely does a car leave the yard in Hannover without him first getting behind the wheel.
I did not know him up to that point, but he seems a nice guy. And he can drive, too. At least, he did not put me in any ditches during the test drive. Or overrev the engine. Or get the gears in a twist.
I have to say, that first warm-up was great fun. My circulation is now in good condition and all my joints have been lubricated nicely. I never knew what fine form I was already in. I am particularly good when it comes to sprints. That is the advantage when you are four-wheel drive, and the power does not all go through one axle.
I would have loved to have headed straight to my first job. Instead, they sent me back to the hall, where I was given another thorough check-up and then cleaned until I looked spick and span. Then there I sat, illuminated by bright spotlights in a corner of the workshop that had been cleaned up and adorned with official-looking logos on the wall. Unfortunately, they then cast a sheet over me. Apparently this was to increase the anticipation for my future head of operations.
Family spread across the whole world
The next morning, things livened up. Unfortunately, the cover prevented me from seeing anything, which meant everything played out like a radio drama for me at first. I recognised Gerard-Jan de Jongh’s voice. He is what you might describe as my spiritual father.
I had already heard from discussions between the mechanics that he was responsible for my construction, as technical project manager. They said something about a two-year development period. And 10,000 kilometres of testing, which my brothers already had in their wheels. Wow, that is quite a distance.
I also heard a female voice from under my polyester cover. That must have been Juliane Gründl, head of sales at Volkswagen Motorsport. She spoke about the high hopes they had for me. As the first representative of an entire family. Over the next few weeks, I am due to receive ten brothers. Then another 30 to 40 next year. That is one heck of a lot of relations.
Organising a family get-together could be tricky. Especially as Ms. Gründl let slip that my brothers will emigrate all over the world, even as far as Paraguay … wherever that is. It sounds a long way.
Then they finally removed the cover from my bodywork and I was able to take a look around. I didn’t recognise some of those present. I immediately noticed from their dialect that they were not from Hannover. Occasionally I heard the word ‘Austria’. Right at the front, amid the flashes of photographers, stood a man who introduced himself as Raimund Baumschlager. My brothers, 001 and 002, had told me about him. He seems to be a good friend of the family.
My first home: Austria
Mr. Baumschlager was then presented with my birth certificate – in truth, it was quite a thick DIN A4 folder. His staff from the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team then gave me another thorough check-up. They even crawled into my boot. But that is fine. At least, I didn’t hear any protests from either Ms. Gründl or Mr. de Jongh.
At the end of the official hand-over, my future team carefully loaded me into a trailer. It was nice of them all to handle me with such care. Once I was loaded, I could not see anything for a while again. The next few hours were tough. The trailer shook about quite a lot. I would have preferred to have driven myself. After all, that is what I do best. Apparently, however, my new owner wanted to go easy on me. That will surely change soon, as I belong on the road.
The trailer was only opened when we arrived in a place where everyone – absolutely everyone – speaks in the same way as my new owner. I guess that must be Austria. It did not look bad at all. Very green. Beautiful mountains. Micheldorf was written in large letters across a sign. This is a good place to live.
After a few more inspections, I was back on my travels again just one week later. I did not understand the language spoken by the people at the destination. Thank goodness a colleague with a feathered arrow on its radiator grille was able to help me. Prague. Czech Republic.
It was here, at the Prague Rally Sprint, that I was to show what I was capable of in competition for the first time. And it went really well: Vojtěch Štajf and Karel Janeček narrowly missed out on victory with me in the first start. In the end, we finished fifth overall in the Rally Sprint, just 6.1 seconds behind the winning duo of Martin Koči and Radovan Mozner jr. – not too bad for the beginning!
I have some exciting weeks behind me, but I am sure there is plenty more excitement in store. Mr. Baumschlager mentioned that I would soon meet up with another two of my brothers in Austria. It is always good to have your family around you. That pretty much guarantees more material for new stories. To be continued.
Media Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH
Photos: @Media Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH
18 December 2018