The Polo WRC was a factory-built hot-rod, but an oddly neutered one. VW wanted to enter the Polo into WRC, but the hottest Polo at the time came with a twin-charged, built-from-glass 1.4TSi motor. And the best engine for the regulations was clearly the 2.0-litre turbo from the much fatter Golf Mk6 (which was also at the end of its life). So what to do? Easy; build 2500 Polos with the engine they want.
On paper it only made a few horses more than the outgoing 1.4 TSi model, but really the Polo WRC was blessed with the EA113, the 2.0ltr EA113 TFSI motor from the outgoing Golf R mk6. All LHD, all restricted to 220hp in order not to highlight the Polo’s inherent weaknesses and lack of LSD.
Now that the fourth BTG #ringtool video went online earlier this week, I’ve had a few questions regarding the full specification of Philippe’s car. I’ll do my best to answer those questions below, as well as post some extra photos that I took of the car.
Is that really a standard engine?”
Yes, as I explained above, the Polo WRC was shipped from the factory with rip-snorting K04-turbocharged EA113 motor. This 2.0ltr motor produces a whopping 270hp in stock form (in the Golf 6R), and can easily be remapped to over 300hp without changing any mechanical parts.
Philippe’s car has a HJS high-flow sports-catalyser and a bigger downpipe, coupled to a Milltek Sports exhaust. On the intake side it’s boasting a bigger Wagner intercooler. Together with custom mapping, this helps the little Polo produce nearly 330hp!
Why is it on such small tyres?”
To be clear, the Polo was on 215-width Yokohama AD08 RS tyres. I have great experience with these tyres, but normally on cars producing about 50 to 60% of this power. And they’re usually lighter too. The Polo, for all of its cutesy looks, is closer to a Golf than a Suzuki Swift when it comes to power and weight. The AD08RS is also what I would call a “Ultra High Performance” tyre, not a true “semi-slick”. A UHP tyre can still offer decent mileage, and great grip at road-going temperatures. But when you put them on heavier or more powerful cars, they tend to run out of performance.
Semi-slicks, in my opinion, offer no-compromises high-performance in dry conditions for as long as possible. These are tyres you can go racing on, such as the Direzza DZ01G, or Yokohama AO-52, or to a lesser extent, the Toyo R888R, Nankang AR-1 and similar.
Philippe has successfully run Semis on the Polo, as wide as 235, and run some very hot laptimes at both the ‘Ring and Spa Francorchamps. But this year he’s keeping the car at his home in Luxembourg, and driving to and from the ‘Ring. This means autobahn miles, and UHP tyres instead of semi-slicks.
Why did it misfire?”
We actually still don’t for sure, but we suspect that fuel quality was a factor. Having refuelled on his way from Lux, the car showed the issues that you saw on the video. After filling with fresh 102RON from the Aral, Philippe didn’t have an issue on any subsequent laps.
What happened on the second lap?”
My agreements with the Nuerburgring that allow me to film, also prevent me from filming anything such as accidents, technical problems or yellow flags. So let me describe it quickly here:
On the second lap, Philippe was wanting me to push the car a little harder, and approaching Flugplatz we had a stack of M3s behind us, and I got the hand-signal for “push flat out”… just as I saw a puff of something dusty in the air. At that point we were committed to the corner, not quite flat-out. I had to stay on the gas long enough to point the car in the right-direction, and then, when it was straight enough, I hit full brakes and sent the Polo diving for the right side. Ahead of us? A crash, and some cars that were stationary, on the “line” on the left. So I had to pull us tighter AND slow down. Mutually exclusive things. We made it to the right side of the track, just overlapping with the now re-accelerating cars on the left, and the M3s were JUST in the right position to see my brake lights before committing to the corner.
tl;dr = it was a big moment, and it could have been worse! Never commit 100% to a corner at the Nordschleife until somebody’s paying you for your time and your crashes! 😉