Volkswagen Magazine

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always at the edge.

Volkswagen is starting the 2014 WRC rally season – only its second – as defending champion. It’s not the first time the brand has caused a sensation in the course of its colourful motorsport history. We take a look at the fastest moments over almost five decades..

Text Jochen Förster
Photos Volkswagen Motorsport

1965

Formula V celebrates its racing debut at Nuremberg’s Norisring. The junior racing class is for 34-horsepower racers, which are fitted with a 1.2-litre engine, chassis and gearbox, all borrowed from the Volkswagen Beetle. The journalist Rainer Braun takes an impromptu spin in the racing rocket wearing a sports jacket, shirt and tie.

Formula V After changes to the rules, the Beetle is now powered by a 75-hp engine. Vienna native Kurt Bergman’s Kaimann Racing Team racks up the most wins. Niki Lauda is one of his drivers.

1971

Salzburg Beetle The red-and-white-striped racers made in Austria stir up the world of motorsport: in 1971 and 1972 they win Austria’s National Championship, while at the 1973 Acropolis Rally a Beetle finishes in fifth place.

1976

VW Junior Cup The first Volkswagen brand cup race takes place at the Hockenheim Motodrom. All of the drivers contest the race with identical 105-hp-powered Sciroccos. Willi Bergmeister (centre) captures overall victory.

German Rally Championship   Volkswagen enters the race for the first time – in a Golf GTI powered by 121 hp. Driver Jochi Kleint promptly takes second place in the season’s third race.

1979

Formula 3 Volkswagen takes to the circuit and becomes an engine manufacturer in Formula 3. By 1994, Volkswagen drivers have garnered 92 individual wins and seven titles in Germany alone. One of them is Michael Schumacher.

1980

Rally Dakar The second time this hellish race through the desert takes place, four Volkswagen teams are taking part. Freddy Kottulinsky and Gerd Löffelmann secure a sensational win in the hardest rally in the world with the Type 183 Iltis.

1986

World Rally Championship Yet another successful première: Volkswagen competes in the Group A class for the first time with the GTI – Kenneth Eriksson and Peter Diekmann promptly become the Group A world champions.

1987

Pikes Peak Jochi Kleint takes a third crack at the most dramatic mountain race in the world with the Twin Golf, which is equipped with a bi-motor and stays in front until shortly before the finish line.

Rally Dakar Back in the desert race for the first time since 2003, Volkswagen succeeds at making a stunning comeback with three Race Touaregs. The American driver Mark Miller (photo) finishes in fourth place overall, and two-time rally world champion Carlos Sainz earns five stage victories.

Formula 3 Volkswagen celebrates a double win at the Macao Grand Prix – the most challenging of the Formula 3 races. The victorious drivers are Edoardo Mortara in a Dallara F308, with Jean Karl Vernay finishing second.

2011

Rally Dakar It was unprecedented – a Volkswagen driver stands at the top of the podium at the world’s hardest rally for the third time in a row (after 2009 and 2010). The best part is that this time the brand occupies all of the top three spots with the Race Touareg 3.

2013

WRC Hard to believe: The Volkswagen Polo R WRC and driver duo Sébastien Ogier and team boss Jost Capito finish their very first race in the Rally Championship in first place. In 2014, Volkswagen kicks off the race season as the defending champion.

2014

GRC Starting in May, the Volkswagen Andretti Team will take part in the US-based GRC Series for the first time – at first in a Rallycross Polo, then later in the new GRC Beetle.