Volkswagen Motorsport history
Four years of previously unheard of success in the World Rally Championship is only part of Volkswagen’s incredible motorsport journey.
That journey – which began 51 years ago – has taken them to victories in the earth’s four corners. And those victories have been claimed by motorsport titans such as Niki Lauda, Keke Rosberg, Carlos Sainz, Michael Schumacher, Sebastien Ogier.
Formula Vee was where it all began, with a single-seater racing car utilising parts from the ubiquitous Volkswagen Beetle. After that followed more production-based motorsport, with a Scirocco kick-starting the German manufacturer’s long and illustrious history in one- make series in 1976.
Rallycross came two years later when Jochi Kleint drove a Golf in the European Rallycross Championship. In 1980, Volkswagen’s Iltis won the legendary Paris- Dakar Rally. That win would take greater significance in the wider Volkswagen Group; the Iltis was the forerunner of Audi’s Quattro.
Dakar success would be revisited 30 years on, when the firm became the first to win the marathon event with diesel power. Race Touaregs dominated Dakar for three years with Giniel de Villiers, Sainz and Nasser Al- Attiyah combining for an astonishing hat-trick of wins on arguably the world’s most technically demanding and arduous event.
And then came the Polo R WRC. Volkswagen hit the ground running with its first World Rally Car setting fastest time on its very first competitive stage. By round two it was a winner. And it didn’t stop winning for the next four years. Volkswagen Motorsport will retain its rallying links with the development of a Polo R5, a car which will sit alongside the Golf GTI TCR as a commercially available product.
The Wolfsburg-based firm has never forgotten its single-seater roots and continues to supply engines for Formula 3 cars – few makes can boast the level of success Volkswagen has enjoyed in this formula. And now for the next chapter: the continuation of the rallycross story.