Title candidate on an excursion: as many as five times this season Shane Williams has been on the podium of the ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup and, as the runner-up in the standings before the finale at Hockenheim (25/26 October 2008), has excellent chances of winning the title.
Before the finale, the South African, who was born in Cape Town, can prove his talent on another continent. As “half-time champion” in Germany’s touring car school, Williams travels to the United States and, thanks to the Volkswagen exchange programme, will compete in two races of the Jetta TDI Cup to be staged at the city street circuit in New Jersey (Pennsylvania) on the outskirts of New York on Saturday and Sunday (27/28 September).
“Shane is in strong form this year and has collected many cups so far. That’s why he’s earned this trip to the USA and the chance to run in a new racing series as a guest entrant,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “The Jetta TDI Cup follows the concept of the German Polo Cup very closely. The contenders were carefully selected, and the level of driving skills is very high. I wish Shane a lot of fun, a lot of success and a wealth of interesting experiences.”
The exchange student himself can hardly wait to start. “I’m tremendously looking forward to this trip. Volkswagen has organised a great programme around the race weekend so that I’ll be able to get to know the country and the people a bit as well.” The change from the Polo to the 170-hp Cup Jetta developed at Volkswagen Motorsport in Germany does not worry the 21-year-old. “The DSG direct-shift gearbox will probably make it easier to adjust to the car. I’ll try and get used to the new situation as quickly as possible without of course disturbing the championship in the Jetta Cup – I wouldn’t want that to happen in Germany either.” Still, the ambitious youngster won’t just settle for the role of a guest entrant entirely: “In New Jersey we’ll be driving on a city circuit that’s new to all the drivers – so we’ve all got the same chances.”
Foreign “practice”: global exchange programme of Volkswagen’s talent promotion
In addition to the student exchange programme with the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup in the USA, foreign “practice programmes” have been established in the one-make cups in China, Japan and South Africa. Maximilian Sandritter as the “rookie half-time champion” of the ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup successfully competed in the Japanese Volkswagen GTI Cup, the junior driver showing the best PR effort on his own behalf will contest the race in China in October. The winners of the overall and the rookie classifications will compete in the South African Polo Cup. During the season, reciprocating visits by the partner series in the German cup are on the agenda as well.