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VW discovers cause of Polo GTI R5 fires

Volkswagen Motorsport has reacted to the spate of fires which have afflicted their newly introduced Polo GTI R5 cars.

They have stated: “Investigations revealed that the position of the safety valve on the fuel tank must be adjusted, as its function may be restricted when using a specific fuel. (Note: since the start of this season, the FIA control fuel is now supplied by Total).

“In some instances, the fuel cell breathing system becomes blocked, resulting in ‘over’ pressure.

“Together with the heat from the exhaust, this ‘over’ pressure can cause a deformation of the tank cover. This can ultimately result in contact between the propshaft and the exhaust, ultimately causing damage to the fuel cell system.”

The technical solution is to reinforce the tank cover around the propshaft and exhaust with a steel support and to optimise the insulation.

The fuel cell breathing system is being modified, in order to reliably regulate any possible ‘over’ pressure.

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Furthermore, the clearance between the central exhaust and the tank is to be increased.

There has been no announcement regarding compensation for teams whose cars have been destroyed, but VW announced that customers will receive the update free of charge.

There are suggestions that certain VW drivers may now change to running Fabia R5s.

Back in Portuga,l it is reported that there was a possibility the rally might have been cancelled because of the high risk of fire in areas of high spectator density, especially because it expected there would be a lot of overnight camping in the spectator zones.

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Martin Holmes is widely considered as world rallying's most experienced, and most respected journalist. Martin covers the WRC, ERC and all major rally championships around the world.

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