Volkswagen’s Polo R WRC rally car finally made its motorsport debut this past weekend, having taken part in the Rally Monte Carlo in Europe and thus marked the culmination of more than 15,000 miles of testing, the development from scratch of more than 1,700 parts, and close to 18 months of preparation.

For Volkswagen, those efforts certainly paid off as its team didn’t just finish the rally, but even managed to come second. Behind the wheel of the second-placed car was Sebastien Ogier together with his co-driver Julien Ingrassia.

First place went to Citroen’s unstoppable Sebastian Loeb, who plans to retire from WRC before the 2013 season is out, while filling out third spot on the podium was fellow Citroen driver Dani Sordo.

Volkswagen’s other car, piloted by Jari-Matti Latvala with co-driver Miikka Anttila, retired from the race after crashing in the first mile after losing traction in some snow-covered sections at the Col de Turini stage.

Speaking at the conclusion of the first rally of the 2013 WRC season, Volkswagen motorsport director Jost Capito said, “Second place in the first rally of the new Polo R WRC is more than we could have expected. The Rally Monte Carlo is the most complex event in the calendar and the team has here shown that they are ready for the World Rally Championship.”

Though based on the humble Polo subcompact, the Polo R WRC race car gets plenty of unique elements including a custom aerodynamic body kit with widened fenders. It also gets a WRC-spec turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 300 horsepower even with an air restrictor in place.

The next stage of the 2013 WRC season is the Rally Sweden, which kicks off on February 7.