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Volkswagen continued the preparation for its entry in the World Rally Championship in 2013 with the Polo R WRC: At the Spain Rally, the twelfth and penultimate round of the World Rally Championship (WRC), the factory team again fielded two Fabia S2000 cars of the Group’s Škoda brand in order to gather valuable experience in the top category of rally racing.
With Christian Riedemann/Michael Wenzel (both from Germany) and Yeray Lemes/Rogelio Peñate (both from Spain) in the cockpits, two young driver pairings again had the chance to prove their skills in a professional environment on an international stage. And they successfully did so: Lemes/Peñate took fourth place in their class and 14th overall while Riedemann/Wenzel crossed the finish ramp in Salou on position eight in class and 20 in the overall classification.
“We’ve got more than twelve months to go before our entry into the World Rally Championship. We’re using this time efficiently by participating in WRC rounds with vehicles of the Volkswagen Group’s Škoda brand and familiarising ourselves with the WRC in competitive conditions in parallel to the development of the Polo R WRC,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “Every rally has its own character. The special aspect of the Spanish rally is that the vehicles first run on gravel and then on tarmac, plus it has incredibly enthusiastic fans. Our two young pairings did well in the competition. Yeray Lemes in particular showed that he can keep the pace of the quickest cars in different terrain whereas Christian Riedemann was running well especially on tarmac. For the whole Volkswagen team the participation in the rally has been a valuable experience and now we’re preparing for our next run in Wales.”
The 47th Spain Rally featured a varied profile over a 406.52-kilometre distance of special stages. On Friday the gravel sections were on the agenda. They culminated in a spectacular leg in the dark of the night. On Saturday and Sunday the terrain changed to quick, winding tarmac roads. Yeray Lemes and his co-driver Rogelio Peñate marked three fastest stage times at their home round but due to a puncture lost the chances of clinching an even better result. “We’re more than pleased. We quickly got used to the car on gravel and were able to seriously attack on tarmac. The result makes us very happy, particularly in front of so many fans from my home region, the Canary Islands. I want to thank Volkswagen, we’d like to repeat this at another venue,” said the 24-year-old Lemes. After competing in the ADAC Rallye Deutschland this was Riedemann and Wenzel’s second run for Volkswagen. “In the beginning we didn’t do the best job of handling the gravel, but we learned from this. On tarmac we clearly managed to improve and were even able to keep the pace of the more experienced drivers some of the time,” says the 24-year-old as he summed up the event. From 10 – 13 November, Volkswagen will continue the preparation of the team: Sepp Wiegand with “Dakar” winner Timo Gottschalk as his co-driver and the Dutchman Kevin Abbring with co-driver Lara Vanneste will compete at the Rally Great Britain.