VW gets brake upgrade for Greece

Three questions for ... François-Xavier (“FX”) Demaison

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By Olivier Ferret

25 May 2013 - 09:16
VW gets brake upgrade for Greece

The Polo R WRC is the first World Rally Car you are responsible for developing. How do you feel about the car after the first five rallies of this season?

“It would be fair to say that we’re pleasantly surprised by how things have gone so far this season. No one in the team expected us to bag three wins and podium finishes at each rally. We’ve faced a few minor problems, of course, but luckily none of them have led to bad results. On the contrary – so far, we have finished well every time. There is no doubt that’s partly thanks to our good preparation. Last year, we conducted tests in practically all conceivable conditions. All of our engineers and mechanics already have two years of hard work behind them, so I’m pretty proud of what we’ve achieved so far. But there’s no doubt that we’re learning all the time; it’s a constant process. We are bound to face new problems that we have no idea about yet. That’s part of motorsport. We’re still serving our apprenticeship this season, and what we learn will help us to be even better prepared for 2014.”

What technological features of the Polo R WRC really stand out?

“First off, there’s the latest version of the Polo: the car is very light and only has short overhangs. That’s a very good starting point for developing a World Rally Car, which made our job easier. But that was just step one. Next, we added outstanding teamwork. The engine, chassis, suspension, transmission and electric – all of the departments work together harmoniously and, above all, successfully.”

So what’s next? How will the Polo R WRC change and develop from rally to rally?

“The handbrake system recently became an important issue, and we’ve spent a lot of time dealing with that in the run-up to Greece. When the handbrake was applied, it didn’t disengage the front axle as quickly as drivers like Sébastien Ogier would have liked. We’ll be introducing a new hydraulic system in Greece which has undergone an extensive series of planned tests to be approved for use in competition. This new system is all about performance rather than other considerations such as durability. In general, our competitors have a slight edge over us on this score. Speaking very broadly, there is also some scope to work on the car’s reliability because we experienced some teething trouble in the first five rallies of this season. We need to eliminate these little problems if we want to be in the running for the world championship. Last but not least, vehicle development is an ongoing issue in motorsport: you can always improve something somewhere.”

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