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VOLKSWAGEN will launch its bid for a hat-trick of FIA World Rally Championships next week with a new-generation Polo R WRC car sporting many technical upgrades and a dramatic new blue livery.

The car was unveiled at Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Thursday and will debut in the 2015 WRC first round at Rallye Monte-Carlo from Thursday.

It will be driven by dual world champion Sebastien Ogier of France and teammate Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland, while number three Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen will pilot the 2014 version until Rally Portugal in May.

The German squad, which finished 1-2-3 at Coates Hire Rally Australia last September, was the last major team to unveil its 2015 contender.

The biggest technical innovation in The Polo R WRC is the hydraulic sequential gearbox, which new regulations mean can be operated by a paddle shift on the steering column, instead of a push-pull lever.

Many carryover components from the 2014 car have been fine-tuned with the aim of making the package simpler, lighter and stronger.

Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala completed their final testing for Monte-Carlo this week. Ogier is confident the new car will be as successful as its predecessor.

“We have done a lot of testing and we drivers have worked very closely with the engineers,” he said.

“We put a lot of effort into developing the new paddle shift, which represents real progress.

“It will be exciting to see how we fare against other teams. The tests have gone well so far, our engineers have done a good job.”

Latvala added: On the whole, the new Polo is faster and even better than the 2014 car. I am not the only one to feel that way – Sébastien and Andreas agree with me. There is no question about it, we are looking forward to the 2015 season.”

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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