Eric Camilli to drive the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 in its rally...

Eric Camilli to drive the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 in its rally debut

Eric Camilli
photo: Volkswagen Motorsport

The first driver duo has been confirmed for the debut of the GTI R5 – Volkswagen will compete at the Rally Spain (25 – 28 October) with Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas. The 200 kW (272 PS) 4×4 will celebrate its rally debut at the only FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) race to take place on asphalt as well as gravel. This is the sole works appearance scheduled for the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. After that, it will begin to participate in domestic and international championships for customers.

Volkswagen chose to rely on familiar resources when deciding the driver line-up for Spain.

The Camilli/Veillas duo played a significant role in the development of the rally car

The four-time world championship-winning team hols in high esteem the two drivers thanks to their detailed feedback and analytical approach. Camilli/Veillas are no unknown quantity in the WRC 2 category, where the Polo GTI R5 will be competing in Spain. They were runners-up in the 2017 world championship with three podium finishes, including a victory at the Rally Germany. In total, Camilli/Veillas have chalked up 31 stage wins in this category.

“Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas are an experienced team and did a valuable job during testing with the Polo GTI R5,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “It is the logical next step for them to take their WRC 2 experience into this competitive debut. Having Eric and Ben in the cockpit puts us in an excellent position.”

There will be a second Polo GTI R5. But there will be an announcement for its crew at a later date.

“When Sven Smeets and R5 project lead Jan de Jongh gave me the good news, it was a lovely, belated birthday present. I was delighted and am proud to be part of the team at this important premiere. After an intensive year of testing, it is great to be competing in the first rally with the Polo GTI R5 and I have plenty of motivation to do well. Ben and I will prepare diligently for the Rally Spain and hopefully we will be able to start the R5 Polo on its career path with a good result”, Eric Camilli said.

The intensive testing and the upcoming debut with the Polo GTI R5 do not represent Eric Camilli’s first meeting with the compact car

The Volkswagen Polo played an important role in the private life of the 31-year-old from an early stage. “My second car was a Polo. A used 2005 Polo IV Trendline with 64 PS, in silver,” explains Camilli. “Volkswagens are such reliable cars. And I like the design.” Camilli/Veillas drove around one third of the approx. 10,000 test kilometres with the Polo GTI R5. “The Polo GTI R5 has an impressive history and reacts very precisely when you are driving. I think that it is a very good R5 car – but we will only know for certain after the Rally Spain and the first head-to-head comparison with the very strong competition.”

The Rally Spain marks the return of co-driver Benjamin Veillas to the four-time world championship-winning team from Volkswagen. In the WRC era, the 40-year-old Frenchman was part of the spotter and weather crew for world champion Sébastien Ogier. Veillas has formed a team with Camilli since the Rally France on Corsica in 2014. They have celebrated six podiums in the WRC 2 category as well as one best stage time in the WRC top category thus far.

The competitive debut at the Rally Spain will be the first and only competitive appearance for the Polo GTI R5 before delivery of the customer sport racer begins at the Volkswagen Motorsport location in Hanover, from November onwards. In 2018/2019, eight customer teams will receive 15 cars. They are planning to compete in numerous international and domestic rally championships according to R5 regulations.