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GP Week : Issue 114
official factory was a variant of the ordinary Golf with a transverse 2-litre turbocharged engine and four-wheel-drive called the A59 project. This was intended to resurrect a WRC campaign in 1994, but after a year’s research this was culled in June 1993. While central VW competition rallying was shelved, there was an abundance of interest by VW importers or assembly plants to have their products active in rallying. The VAG enterprise in Britain was one of the foremost. By now the mass production Golf model had moved on to the Mark 3 version Golf, a rally version of which appeared on the 1993 RAC Rally with two-wheel-drive full 2-litre 210bhp engine and a six- speed gearbox which had been designed for the G60. This car was unsuccessful but was in the current vogue with the FIA encouraged with their 2-litre Cup (commonly called Formula 2) in 1993. VW, however, was slow in actively pursuing the opportunities offered by the Kit Car rules which came into force in 1995, and which formed an important role in rally manufacturers’ 2-litre work until the end of 1999. In 1999 the Golf Mark 4 version was homologated as a Kit Car and possessed a five-valve engine. The rally version now had 269bhp, enough to be competitive with rival Formula 2 cars. By now the sport was downsizing and in 2001 the Super 1600 movement was getting strong. The British importers prepared a Polo but this was not successful. Elsewhere in the world the VW movement was also active. In South America they give the name of a different sport to their cars – they called them the Gol’, after football! These cars were produced over a long period of time in Brazil and were widely used in competition in that region. In South Africa the VAG enterprise at Port Elizabeth hankered after competitive rally material to use after their Quattro project ended, and in the early 2000s they were instrumental in one of the most important rally projects for some time. This was the Polo Super 2000 project. Along with their friendly rival Toyota importers, they devised a formula which was very close to the similar project being considered by the FIA and in 2005, shortly after Toyota, they began their programme. VW were using a five-valve aluminium engine, initially slightly shorter in bodywork than the FIA’s minimum length of 3.9 metres, but in 2006 the engine was replaced by a 16-valve unit, which proved more driveable, and with revised (longer) bodywork was homologated by the FIA. Internationally the company’s competition activities were hampered by political issues and never got strongly off the ground, and in 2011 a later body version (‘Vivo’ model) Polo was introduced in South Africa. Another country strongly active in VW competition is China, where locally made Polos were homologated with the FIA in 2004 so that they could be used in the world championship Rally Australia. Meanwhile in South America something else is now emerging. With the Argentine federation becoming exasperated with the national rally dominance of Subaru and Mitsubishi, they checked out the international Super 2000 formula and modified this for local consumption. They extended the single-supplier principle so that all the participants under the scheme must run with Honda engines, and the Maxi Rally formula was introduced. The VW cars are called Gol Trend and started competition activities in mid- 2010. The interest sparked off a rush of activity by Ford, Fiat, Kia and Chevrolet. Now, after 50 years of successful competition, usually at lower levels, Volkswagen now wants to make its presence felt at the top ... Bottom Left: The twin-engined Golf testing ... Top Left: Golfs being prepared for Safari Rally. Top Right: VW ‘Kit Car’ Rally Australia 1998; Below: Third-paced Go1, Rally Brazil, 1981. Pics: Holmes WRC FEATURE >>