World Rally champions Petter Solberg and Marcus Gronholm helped conduct the latest test for Volkswagen’s new Polo GTI R5 car in Sweden.
Solberg, the 2003 champion, and two-time WRC title winner Gronholm were joined by reigning WRC2 champion Pontus Tidemand for the four-day test near Kall.
The R5 car marks VW's first rally programme since the emissions scandal led to it pulling out of the WRC's top division at the end of 2016 following four years of dominance, and it began testing in December.
Solberg has Polo experience from his tie-up with VW in the World Rallycross Championship.
He was co-driven in the test by Veronica Engan, who usually reads pace notes for Solberg’s son Oliver.
“It was just fantastic to be back behind the wheel of a rally car again and to help out the Volkswagen family,” said Solberg. “It was a really fun day.
“The team has done such a great job and the car is fantastic to drive. I didn’t want to get out at the end of the day.”
Since he left the WRC at the end of 2012, Solberg’s focus has been rallycross.
He won back-to-back world titles in 2014 and 2015, and finished third last season in his first year driving a Polo under the PSRX Volkswagen banner.
“We covered almost 300 kilometres in one day – very different to what I’m used to in the World Rallycross Championship,” said Solberg.
“I used my years of rallying experience to work with the engineers on small changes to the car.”
Gronholm, who has been linked with running a works-supported Hyundai rallycross team, was expected to be part of the R5 testing programme.
He did much of the development work on the Polo R WRC and also tested Skoda’s R5 Fabia and the new Proton Iriz.
VW has targeted Rally Germany in August for its WRC return in the WRC2 class.
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