Volkswagen Motorsport customers have completed another chapter in their long story of success in 2020: 42 victories and 104 podium finishes for the Polo GTI R5 in rallying as well as 21 wins and 71 podiums in official TCR races for the Golf GTI TCR all clearly speak for themselves.
Particularly in a motorsport year like this one. After all, 2020 has been different to anything ever experienced before. Many events had to be postponed or even cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant customers were left to face completely new challenges which they were able to successfully overcome alongside Volkswagen Motorsport. An impressive result of 22 titles in total.
“I would like to pay a huge compliment to our customer racing teams,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets. “22 titles and more than 60 victories with the Polo GTI R5 and Golf GTI TCR in this compromised season once again demonstrates how well-positioned our customers are in rallying and circuit racing. We are proud to have celebrated this success with our customers. Thank you for the trust they have put in our products. Although we must bid farewell as Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH, I would like to wish all of our Volkswagen customers every success in the future. I can assure them that the supply of spare parts for the Polo GTI R5 and the Golf GTI TCR has been secured for the long term.”
Solberg makes his mark on the Polo GTI R5
2020 was another successful year for the Polo GTI R5 and Volkswagen customers. After the successful debut in 2019, Volkswagen drivers have again made many positive headlines. One of the main protagonists was once again Oliver Solberg (N). Alongside co-driver Aaron Johnston, the son of three-time FIA world champion Petter Solberg, showcased his talent in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) – mostly at the wheel of the Polo GTI R5.
In his first year at the highest level of rallying, Solberg immediately accumulated his first WRC points with two top-ten finishes and was ultimately crowned Junior European Rally Champion. After his second overall win at the Rally Liepāja (ERC) and his triumph in the WRC3 class at the Rally Estonia, Solberg was once again notable in the Polo GTI R5. And there was more: after 19 stage wins in WRC3 – eleven of them with the 200-kW (272-PS) four-wheel drive car from Hannover – he was the most successful driver in his class. All of this at the age of just 19.
More titles for Al-Attiyah and Saba
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) remains the man to beat in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC). This year’s championship was reduced to two rallies, both of which were seemingly effortlessly won by the experienced 50-year-old and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel (F) in the Polo GTI R5, securing their 13th MERC title since 2003. Al-Attiyah’s impressive balance since making his debut in 1991 translates to 75 wins from 105 rallies.
In Paraguay, Gustavo Saba (PY) is still in a class of his own. The 41-year-old also had to make do with a significantly reduced programme due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that didn’t stop him from emerging with victory. Saba won the Super Prime, a series of six gravel rallies, with five commanding victories in the 200-kW (272-PS) Polo GTI R5.
One-two for the Polo GTI R5 in Cyprus
Two Volkswagen drivers, Simos Galatariotis (CY) and Alexandros Tsouloftas (CY), battled it out for the title in Cyprus and, in doing so, showcased how outstandingly both they and the Polo GTI R5 could perform. Galatariotis and his co-driver Antonis Ioannou (CY) won three of the seven events, finishing the season just narrowly ahead.
Tsouloftas and co-driver Stelios Elia (CY) had also stood at the top of the podium three times, but only took part in four rallies. The 28-year-old had proven his talent once again on the international stage at the Cyprus Rally. Tsouloftas won six of the ten special stages at his home rally, which formed part of both the MERC and the Cypriot championship, and made even the experienced Al-Attiyah sweat. A broken drive shaft unfortunately ruined any hopes of victory.
Success for Lestrup Racing and Autorama Motorsport in circuit racing
In 2020, Volkswagen customers have once again impressively proven just how powerful the 250-kW (340-PS) front-wheel drive of the Golf GTI TCR is in both sprint and endurance racing. In STCC TCR Scandinavia, the Lestrup Racing team and its drivers Rob Huff (GB) and Oliver Söderström (S) were the main actors in a thriller that went right down to the wire. Huff literally snatched the title on the final stretch of the last race of the season. His team-mate Söderström won the Junior title. With three victories and 13 podiums, Lestrup Racing also won the Team title in 2020, making it a clean sweep.
Autorama Motorsport powered by Wolf-Power Racing boasted even more success. The Swiss team showcased the endurance capabilities of the Golf GTI TCR in the 24h Series which was still split into two championships for this year. They won a total of eight races and claimed 17 podium finishes en route to an incredible seven titles. As well as the Team titles in the TCE class in both the “Europe” and “Continents” championships, the Driver’s title in “Europe” also went to Miklas Born (CH) with Born and Roberto Ferri (I) tied for the Driver’s title in the “Continents” championship. The Junior title in both championships also went to 18-year-old Born. Last but not least, Jasmin Preisig (CH) won the Ladies competition in “Europe”.
More titles in Denmark, Italy and Eastern Europe
LM Racing can also look back on a successful season. In TCR Denmark, Nicolai Sylvest (DK) and former Formula 1 driver Jan Magnussen (DK) both celebrated winning one race each as well as a remarkable twelve podiums between them. Despite this, they only placed third and fourth in the Drivers’ Championship. However, LM Racing did win the Team title after 15 thrilling races.
Gabriele Giorgi (I) emerged victorious in the DSG class of the Coppa Italia Turismo. The 38-year-old only joined the series midway through the season but drove the Golf GTI TCR of NOS Racing with a stunning late charge, taking overall victory in two of the final three races to snatch the title. In TCR Eastern Europe, youngster Jáchym Galáš (CZ) continues to make an impression. The 18-year-old and the GT2 Motorsport team claimed two podiums and, as well as finishing third overall, successfully defended the Junior title he had previously won in 2019.
Max Kruse Racing wins races and titles with the Golf GTI TCR
As well as in racing series held in accordance with TCR regulations, Volkswagen customers also used the Golf GTI TCR in a wide range of other championships. One example of this was the Max Kruse Racing team with Volkswagen driver and brand ambassador Benjamin Leuchtner (D). The team claimed two one-twos in the SP3T class of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS). Instrumental in this success was touring car legend Tom Coronel (NL) who showcased all of his experience at the wheel of the Golf GTI TCR on the Nordschleife. 17-year-old Marek Schaller (D) won the Driver title in the DMV National Endurance Series 500 with Max Kruse Racing.
In the French Trophée Tourisme Endurance (TTE), all three places on the T4 podium were occupied by teams with the Golf GTI TCR. Chazel Technologie Course claimed victory over the Chotard team as well as Code Racing Development.
Overall, the bottom line is that Volkswagen’s successful Customer Sport programme has led to victory over 270 times since both the Polo GTI R5 (2018) and the Golf GTI TCR (2015) launched.
By: Volkswagen official website