The countdown is underway – in 2013 Volkswagen will start to contest the FIA World Rally Championship with the Polo R WRC. Until then a rally car with about 300 hp based on the Polo is being developed. To gather initial experience in the World Rally Championship, the team will be contesting selected rallies in 2011 with vehicles from the Volkswagen Group’s Škoda brand. At these rounds top talents are to be given the chance to qualify for a cockpit in the Polo R WRC in a new talent assessment programme under competitive conditions.
“In addition to a few top-calibre rally racers we want to present top talents in our 2013 driver line-up,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “Therefore, we will be giving young racers in particular an opportunity to show their skills at our runs in competitive conditions. This is the best way to see who is doing a good job of driving and would fit into the Volkswagen rally team. It would be great if we could find a new Walter Röhrl or Michèle Mouton using this approach.”
The first run will be at the Finland Rally from 28 to 31 July for which Volkswagen Motorsport has submitted entries for two Scandinavian driver pairings. The rally car will be the 270-hp Škoda Fabia S2000 from the SWRC, a subcategory of the World Rally Championship for vehicles with normally aspirated 2.0-litre engines.
The first car will be driven by the pairing Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (driver/co-driver). Mikkelsen, aged 22, in his early youth was active in alpine skiing and motocross events and a member of the Norwegian national youth team in both sports. In 2006 he made his debut in rally racing at the WRC round in Great Britain. In the 2011 season the Norwegian who lives in Oslo is driving for Škoda England in the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge).
The second cockpit crew carries the Finnish national flag. Joonas Lindroos/Pasi Kilpeläinen will drive down the starting ramp in their native country. Like Mikkelsen Lindroos ranks among the top young drivers in rally sport. The 26-year-old from the small town of Jämsä has been successfully driving in the national championship in the team of the four-time world champion Tommi Mäkinen since 2010.