What happened in the Polo R5 fire

What happened in the Polo R5 fireFrom General Article [ 31/03/2019 ].
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In the Tour de Corse many people saw that the last stage on Saturday, the 47km Castagniccia stage was stopped by the Polo R5 of Eric Camilli being on flames. Early reports that the fire started in the left rear of the car and could be caused by a flat tyre fracturing some pipes are ruled out. As it turns out the tyre change was on the first run of the same stage, while the team confirms that in SS12 the car ran fine until that point and they are puzzled what might have caused it. If you read the following text, another side note of Rallye-info and our statistics is that the (Catalunya) works car of test driver Eric Camilli was actually driven by Kajetan Kajetanowicz here in Corsica. Camilli started Corsica in the BMA (Bernard Munster Autosport) car, that is usually used by Kris Princen in his Belgian Championship campaign. Meanwhile, the following text is thanks to the BMA team themselves:

This last weekend BMA brought a VW Polo R5 to the start of the Rally of Corsica. The Frenchman Eric Camilli, former M-Sport works driver and current VW Motorsport test driver, dominated the competition right up until disaster struck and for some unknown reason the car caught fire and completely burnt out. An uppercut for both Camilli and BMA who saw a definite victory in WRC2 literally go up in smoke. Neither BMA’s national nor international programme are put at risk.

In previous weeks BMA and Eric Camilli found each other. After several meetings it was decided to compete in the Rally of Corsica. A win-win situation in which the Frenchman could compete on his home ground and BMA could prove their worth at world level.

As from the first meters during the shakedown BMA and Camilli showed their speed. Camilli won stage after stage and in an authoritarian manner grabbed the lead up until a puncture on the long 47,18 kilometres stage of Castagniccia put an abrupt end to it. Camilli changed the wheel in a sharp 1 min 37 sec and regained the road. During the second run on Castagnicca he once again virtually took the lead until he smelt a strange smell in the cockpit. When co-driver François-Xavier Buresi suddenly spotted a flame in his mirror the car was driven to the side of the road with the known consequences.

“This is a complete riddle” Bernard Munster, the man heading up BMA sighed. “As from the first meter everything was going to our liking. The VW Polo R5 was not only competitive, but was also a paragon of reliability. Even with that puncture Eric didn’t lose his concentration. He remained calm, fully determined that he would be able to make up for the delay incurred. Up until that devilish twelfth stage. Everyone is mystified by it. Further analysis should clarify what the actual cause was. Every effort was made to try to extinguish the fire, but to no avail. Right from the first moment we clicked with Eric, with whom we were able to put in some fabulous work together this week. It’s a crying shame for him.”

Eric Camilli is VW Motorsport’s official test driver. The Frenchman was at the cradle of the new VW Polo R5 which together with Petter Solberg saw its debut in the Rally of Catalunia last year. “What happened yesterday can only be put down to nothing else than fate.” Eric Camilli commented “It all started with a weird smell in the car, after which everything went very fast. When I parked the car on the side of the road it caught fire a few seconds later. It’s truly unfortunate because up until that moment we were driving a really strong race. The collaboration with BMA started off rather by chance. The team put in a great deal of work to bring me to the start of this competition. As from the first moment Bernard Munster and I were on the same wavelength. The team worked hard during the test session allowing me to be highly competitive as from the shakedown. During the race fastest times just kept on coming. As a test driver I am well placed to make comparisons. The car BMA provided me with was identical to the official vehicle I had developed. Neither had the team left anything to chance, they came to the start well prepared and at all times were highly professional. What happened yesterday is a great pity but I want to remain positive.” Apart from BMA’s international programme there is also a national programme with in a fortnight’s time the TAC Rally of the Belgian Rally Championship. “This unfortunate incident affects neither our national nor our international programme”, Bernard Munster concluded