World-class footballer meets world-class motorsport: football international Lukas Podolski (D) swapped his Arsenal FC shirt for a Volkswagen Motorsport racing overall. The star striker spent a day in Sardinia with the test team from Wolfsburg. Podolski enjoyed his first taste of action as a co-driver alongside Volkswagen works driver Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN). The Latvala/Podolski pairing took on the six-kilometre gravel route near Oristeo three times, and actually clocked the fastest time of the day.
“I love speed, so I was not afraid at all. On the contrary, I had heaps of fun on the rollercoaster ride with Jari-Matti in the Polo R WRC,” said Podolski. “It is incredible what those guys are capable of! You are shaken about so much, it’s like being in a washing machine – left, right, up, down. I have been to Formula One events a few times, but the control the rally drivers have over the car is simply unbelievable. And so is the physical effort the drivers put in behind the steering wheel. You have to be extremely fit to compete in a rally. I was soaked in sweat after just a couple of runs, it was so hot in the cockpit. It really is high-performance sport, and I have the utmost respect.”
Volkswagen works driver Jari-Matti Latvala was also happy to have a new face alongside him in the cockpit: “Lukas is not only a world-class player, but also a great guy! It was great fun driving with him. I really went flat out, but he was not at all scared. It was a different story with Alan Shearer a few years ago – he was more worried back then.”
Podolski, who follows the World Rally Championship closely in his spare time, is particularly looking forward to the start of the Rally Germany in his home city of Cologne on 22nd August. “The fact that the rally is coming to Cologne is obviously a big thing for the city. The start from the Domplatte in front of the cathedral will be a real highlight – not just for the fans, but certainly for the drivers too. The atmosphere with the cheering fans, cars and the cathedral – it will be a one-off experience, the kind of which you only get in Cologne!”
RTL will broadcast a report on Podolski’s test drive in the Polo R WRC at 13:20 on Saturday 29 June. The Cologne-based station will also report from the WRC events in Greece and Italy within its Formula One coverage.