Volkswagen grabs podium at inaugural WRC event
By Mark Atkinson for MSN Autos
While we've known for a while that Ford officially pulled its factory effort from the World Rally Championship after decades of steady support, at least one other manufacturer has jumped into the messy fray. Volkswagen is the latest to go full-time with its newly-developed Polo R machines, and found quick success last week during the WRC's opener in Monte Carlo.
eThe legendary Monte Carlo is generally a 'tarmac' (read: paved) event that sometimes sees some snow and ice at higher elevations. But this year, every day was thick with freezing rain, heavy snow, and just horrible conditions threw everyone for a loop and forced organizers to cancel the final two stages.
Citroen rally monster and nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb of course kept his cool and won the event, but VW's Sebastien Ogier was an incredible second. Loeb's Citroen teammate Dani Sordo ended up third, while the other Polo R driven by Jari-Matti Latvala retired late in the rally.
As background, WRC cars are based on production shells taken straight from a manufacturer, but now bear little relation to their road-going cousins. Power comes from turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinders with around 300 horsepower, sequential transmissions and all-wheel drive.
Next up is the Rally Sweden held from February 7-10 where it'll most certainly be even colder than in Monaco...