VW Jetta: VIR rounds one, two preview

Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Returns to VIRginia International Raceway Syndiesel B5 biofuel to power the series in 2009 About the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup The 2009 season marks the second year of competition for the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, which...

Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Returns to VIRginia International Raceway
Syndiesel B5 biofuel to power the series in 2009

About the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup

The 2009 season marks the second year of competition for the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, which is sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing. During the season, young, up and coming drivers (between ages 16-26) will compete in ten events on eight road courses around North America in identical factory-prepared clean diesel Jetta TDIs. Each driver competing in the series will earn a Pro Racing license from SCCA at the conclusion of the season. In addition, the series champion will win $100,000.

The Jetta TDI Cup car is powered by a 2.0-liter, 170 hp, four-cylinder TDI clean diesel engine mated to a six-speed, double-clutch, automatic DSG transmission. The car is only slightly modified from stock with Pirelli racing tires, race suspension and brake components, drivers racing safety seat, FIA roll cage and an on-board fire extinguisher system. Series sponsors include: Pirelli, Bosch, ViON, Castrol, Oakley, Red Bull, HYPERFUELS, Aggreko, defNder, Safety-Kleen, Ringer Gloves, Jim Russell Racing School and Trellis Earth.

What sets the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup apart from other racing series?

* The series is the only clean diesel racing series in the United States, and Volkswagen is the only auto manufacturer participating in motorsports full time with diesel powered cars.

* The TDI (turbo direct injection) engine technology improves fuel economy over gasoline engines and reduces sooty emissions by 95 percent, even under demanding race conditions. The series' will consume approximately two tanks of fuel during races this season.

* The Jetta TDI Cup features a product that consumers can buy at their local dealerships.

* Cars are maintained by Volkswagen of America, which creates a level playing field for all drivers.

News & Notes:

Syndiesel B5 biofuel to power the series for the first time in 2009

After first introducing its clean diesel technology on the race track in 2008, Volkswagen is using Syndiesel B5 biofuel provided by Houston-based HYPERFUELS to power its race cars, transport vehicles and generators during the 2009 Jetta TDI Cup season.

Performance testing has proven that diesel powered vehicles offer more low-end torque than traditional gasoline engines, providing quicker off-the-line acceleration that's well suited for the race track. In addition, the Jetta TDI engine's use of a "common rail" direct injection system improves fuel economy over gasoline engines and reduces sooty emissions by 95 percent, even under demanding race conditions. During the 2009 season, the Jetta TDI Cup cars will consume approximately two tanks of fuel during race conditions and overall carbon emissions produced by the series will be reduced by 2,583 pounds as a result of the new fuel.

VW race shop located at VIR

In the spring of 2008, Volkswagen established VIR as its Jetta TDI Cup headquarters by moving in to its 10,000 square foot race shop, located in the motorsports industrial park area at the track. A team of eight shop employees as well as students from Virginia Tech University spend countless hours in the facility preparing the Jetta TDIs for competition.

Volkswagen chose VIR after conducting its 2008 preseason testing at the track. At that point, the decision was made to locate the new series' shop at the track because of its facilities and the proximity to Volkswagen's U.S. headquarters in Herndon, Va.

Virginia Tech students earn their racing stripes with the Jetta TDI Cup

There's no better experience than on-the-job training, which is why nearly 20 engineering students from Virginia Tech University are taking part in the 2009 Jetta TDI Cup season. The students will b providing technical support at Volkswagen's race shop at VIR and on the road at the series' 10 race events. During the season, twelve students will travel to each race and work alongside the series technicians.

The students have a variety of backgrounds and expertise in engineering, but all have the desire to enter the world of motorsports engineering. This program allows them to gain experience in a professional setting.

No place like home --three drivers hail from Virginia

Three Jetta TDI Cup rookie drivers reside in Virginia:

Devin Cates (Broad Run, VA) - Cates honed his skills racing karts on a 1/8-mile oval beginning at age five, and he has been competing in various NASA and SCCA Camaro-Mustang Challenge and Spec Miata events since 2006. In 2008, he scored one win, seven podiums and four pole positions in Spec Miata races and finished fourth out of 91 competitors in the NASA Mid Atlantic Regional Championship. Cates is finishing his freshman year as a business major at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Ryan Ellis (Ashburn, VA) - Ellis is a third-generation racecar driver who began competing in quarter midgets at age four and compiled more than 100 feature race wins. He then advanced into INEX Legends cars where he claimed the Virginia State Championship in 2006. In 2008, he competed in the NASA Mid Atlantic Spec Miata Challenge series where he finished second in the championship standings and was named the NASA Mid Atlantic "Driver of the Year." Ellis is completing his freshman year as a business marketing major at George Mason University.

Donny Warren (Winchester, VA) - Warren began his racing career at age 12 and finished third in his first road course karting event. Since then, he has won two WKA Grand National Championships, a WKA Daytona World Championship, 15 Regional Series Championships and two WKA National Road Racing Series Championships.

Recap of the 2008 race at VIR

Last season's race at VIR was won by Mark Pombo who is competing in the series again in 2009. Pombo took the checkered flag after leading the final two laps of the race. The 2008 series championship was won by Josh Hurley who is competing in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge series, driving a Volkswagen GTI for APR Motorsport.

Pombo looks to repeat in 2009

The winner of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup's inaugural race at VIR remembers the 2008 season as one of the most rewarding, yet frustrating seasons he's experienced in his motorsports career.

"I've been racing in regional events since age five, but last year was my first professional racing experience. I had a blast racing in the series, but a few small mistakes cost me the championship," said Pombo. "Volkswagen has worked extremely hard to make this series a great value for the participating drivers while assuring that there's a great deal of parity among the cars. The on-track results really come down to driver skill, which unfortunately isn't the case in all forms of motorsports."

After taking the checkered flag at the first event, an on-track incident in Round three at Portland International Raceway left the Duluth, Ga. native with a 26th-place finish that cost him valuable points, which he battled to make up the remainder of the season. Nonetheless, Pombo is making a return to the series in 2009 and intends to improve on his third-place finish in the championship standings. He also hopes to start this season with a win at VIR, the same way he did in 2008.

"Last year's race at VIR was a lot of fun because it was the first race for the series. So, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the event, and all of the drivers were anxious to get on the track together for the first time," said Pombo. "I ran what I considered to be a conservative race, and observed some aggressive racing going on in front of me. I had a feeling that they were going to have problems, so I just wanted to put myself in a position to capitalize on their mistakes if the opportunity presented itself. Late in the race, they made contact, and the race fell right in my lap. While you never like to hope for other people's misfortune, it was great to be able to win the Jetta TDI Cup's first race."

Drivers with past experience at VIR

In addition to the drivers who participated in the Jetta TDI Cup event at VIR in 2008, several of the series rookies have also competed at the circuit including Devin Cates, Ryan Ellis and AJ Nealey. Ellis and Nealey have both found victory lane at the track in other series.

Volkswagen's Campbell looks for further series growth in 2009

"Last season, we concentrated on launching the Jetta TDI Cup series and getting our systems and processes in place. This year, we're really trying to build on this by increasing the awareness of the series and the benefits of clean diesel technology," said Clark Campbell, motorsports manager, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "I think I'm just as excited as the drivers to drop the green flag on the season. We have a great group of drivers this season, and it will be interesting to see how our returning drivers match up with our new competitors."

Pirelli joins the Jetta TDI Cup series as the official tire supplier

Late in 2008, Volkswagen announced that Pirelli would be joining the series in 2009 as the official tire supplier for the series. Pirelli's participation in the Jetta TDI Cup is an important component in the continuation of the Pirelli Group's goal of creating more "eco-compatible" products, supporting more "green" projects and taking an active role in responsible eco-education through this series and through collaboration between Pirelli's Silvio Tronchetti Provera Foundation and the universities and companies it partners with.

"Pirelli is very excited to be the exclusive tire supplier to the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, the world's only carbon-free racing series," said Rafael Navarro, Pirelli Tire North America's Director of Motorsport and Media Communications. "This series is a very important part of our motorsport growth in North America as it provides a platform to introduce young developing talent to our brand while reducing the impact motorsport has on the environment. Having the ability to support young talent in their progression in racing is one of the hallmarks of over a century of Pirelli motorsport heritage."

Jetta TDI named "Green Car of the Year"

The 2009 Jetta TDI clean diesel was recently named the 2009 "Green Car of the Year" by Green Car Journal. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the Jetta TDI at an economical 30 mpg City, and 41 mpg Highway. Volkswagen went a step further to evaluate the real world fuel economy of the Jetta TDI. Leading third-party certifier, AMCI, tested the Jetta TDI and found it performed 24 percent better in real world conditions, achieving 38 mpg in the City and 44 mpg on the Highway.

"The Volkswagen Jetta TDI rose to the top as Green Car Journal's 2009 "Green Car of the Year" for some very important reasons," said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of GreenCar.com. "Hybrids have dominated the discussion of environmentally positive vehicles in recent years. The highly fuel efficient, 50 state emissions certified Jetta TDI shows that advanced clean diesel has arrived and is poised to change this dynamic. With its affordable price point, refined ride and handling, and high fuel economy, the Jetta TDI shows that hybrids now have a strong competitor in the marketplace."

-credit: www.vwmotorsportusa.com

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Mark Pombo , Ryan Ellis , Devin Cates , Rafael Navarro