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PHOTO: Volkswagen is heading back to the stages with customer teams and drivers (Jeremy Rogers pic)

VOLKSWAGEN has confirmed development of its R5 customer rally car is underway and said a reappearance of the 2016 Polo WRC in private hands is still a possibility.

Motorsport director Sven Smeets said the R5, based on a forthcoming new-generation Polo, is expected to start testing in September.

He did not confirm when the Polo R5 would be ready for competition in the WRC2 category, but Volkswagen stated last year that customers would be able to buy the car in 2018.

It will be powered by an upgraded version of the 1.6-litre turbo engine currently used in the all-conquering Škoda Fabia R5. The Czech manufacturer, part of the Volkswagen family, is dominating WRC 2, winning 13 of the past 14 rounds.

Volkswagen promised to build a customer R5 when announcing its withdrawal from the FIA World Rally Championship last season after four years of dominating the drivers’ and manufacturers’ series. The team competed for the final time at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the NSW Coffs Coast last November.

Smeets gave no information about a re-appearance of the Polo WRC, except to say it was still on the table. The 2017 Polo WRC cannot compete because it was not homologated.

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