Volkswagen drivers continue in front after concentrated showing
Wolfsburg. Volkswagen has extended its clear one-two lead on the fifth leg of the Rally dos Sertoes with a concentrated showing. On the stage between Paranã and Palmas, which marked the second part of a marathon leg without night-time service by the team, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) in the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 clinched their first stage victory. Previously, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) had decided the prologue and the first four legs in their favour at this rally covering a more than 4,500-kilometre distance through Brazil. By coming second on Sunday, they maintained their top position overall in front of their team-mates.
Before the 268-kilometre route across jungle sections with trial-like passages and narrow service roads no service by mechanics was permitted at the bivouac in Paranã. Accordingly, on both days a high level of concentration was required on the part of the drivers and co-drivers to avoid any risk of damage to the two Race Touareg vehicles. With the "Dakar"-seasoned factory team, the cockpit crews of the 280-hp TDI diesel prototypes can rely on professional help in preparing themselves. In addition to a team physician, a physiotherapist and a team chef are on location to support the physical preparation of the four factory drivers during this tough rally.
On Monday, the longest special stage - covering a distance of 582 kilometres - on the route between Palmas and Balsas will be on the agenda before another marathon leg follows on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Halfway through the event, we can be satisfied with our achievements at this remarkably tough rally. Both Race Touareg vehicles are running perfectly, despite the huge demands made on them so far. This shows the high reliability of our material and the good work of the team. The drivers, as well, continue doing a well-balanced job of keeping a high pace without taking excessive risks."
#302 - Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 2nd place (leg) / 1st place overall
"After yesterday's tough leg the stage on Sunday was pleasantly short. Things keep going the way they should. Today we just made a small navigation mistake, which didn't cost us too much time, though. Instead of taking the right turn-off, we entered a private piece of property and had to turn around on the narrow plot. Still, my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz is doing a fine job, our teamwork is the basis for our lead."
#303 - Mark Miller (USA), 1st place (leg) / 2nd place overall
"I'm happy about winning the stage of this nice rally. My co-driver Ralph Pitchford, who did a superb job of navigating today, has a major part in this success. His preparation with the roadbook was perfect and, as always, he was extremely alert at tricky places. Particularly on marathon legs, you've constantly got to stay focused in order to avoid making any unnecessary mistakes. This won't change the next few days either - after all, this is only the midpoint."