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VW racing

Broadcast date : 16th April 2006

Volkswagen’s Motorsport division is now known as Volkswagen Racing, but that’s something of a misnomer.

For the past few years the accent at VW Racing has been very much on rallying, and in fact VW is the current championship-winning team in our national rally championship.

Since the late 1990s, Volkswagen Racing has also supplied racing Polos for the VW Engen Cup one-make series, and this is one of the most entertaining classes of all on the circuit racing scene.

The Polo racers use modified two-litre engines not dissimilar to the GTi engines, except that they are naturally aspirated.

The GTi is of course turbocharged and will compete against the Mini Cooper S brigade in the production car series.

The Golf has been the mainstay competition car for Volkswagen both on and off the road. 

VW Racing builds special streetcars for the likes of the police force and for enthusiasts who want special road-going Golfs and Polos. It also builds complete race and rally cars for privateers wanting to enter the sport.

As far as top level rallying is concerned Jannie Habig and Douglas Judd are the 2005 champions in a Golf, while team-mates Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson are currently the pace setters in 2006.

Nevertheless Motorsport Manager Andre van der Watt is well aware that the privateer customers are vital to Volkswagen’s public image.

It makes good sense for privateer rallyists and racers to buy their cars on order from Volkswagen Racing. The key to cost cutting is that VW Racing has access to raw body components before they reach the assembly line.

For the rallying programme, VW Racing’s engine division prepares engines with up to 200 kilowatts of output, capable of revving all day at 9000 rpm.

And no branch of motorsport punishes a car more than rallying, because of the speeds reached on gravel.

Since 1982, when Volkswagen South Africa began campaigning the famous Audi Quattros for Sarel van der Merwe and Geoff Mortimer, the company has been at the forefront of South African rallying.

Along with Toyota, Volkswagen has been a major contender for overall rallying championships for over two decades, and the Golf has increasingly played a starring role in that situation.

In rallying’s top classes the machinery is so specialized that it’s practically impossible for a privateer to compete successfully, but VW Racing also prepares Polos and Golfs for competition in the lower classes.

While Jannie Habig has won a number of championships for VW, last year Enzo Kuun came within an ace of winning his first championship for VW and many pundits feel he is the favourite for 2006 honours.

Few outsiders realize the level of craftsmanship and commitment from dozens of team members that goes into a rally-winning vehicle. And how each component is purpose-built for the car, from conception through to completion.

The Golf Gti has become THE icon in the hot-hatch class, with VW struggling to supply enough for customers. This sequence shows Clint putting a standard Gti through its paces at Midvaal Raceway near Vereeniging.

Ironically, Clint will compete in a Mini Cooper S against the racing Gti's which, according to Johan Smit, should be competitive out the box.

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