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Transsyberia Rally: Porsche North American final summary

PORSCHE CAYENNES FINISH 2008 TRANSSYBERIA RALLY IN TOP SIX POSITIONS AMERICANS FALL SHORT AFTER TOWING TOP GERMAN TEAM THROUGH LATE STAGE Porsche has won the Transsyberia Rally for the third time in succession. After its one-two finish in...

PORSCHE CAYENNES FINISH 2008 TRANSSYBERIA RALLY IN TOP SIX POSITIONS

AMERICANS FALL SHORT AFTER TOWING TOP GERMAN TEAM THROUGH LATE STAGE

Porsche has won the Transsyberia Rally for the third time in succession. After its one-two finish in 2006 and podium sweep in 2007, the Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia has secured the top six positions for 2008.

Of the top ten vehicles, nine were Porsche. The decisive overall win went to Team Porsche France with Christian Lavieille and Francois Borsotto, who put in constantly fast times and made no mistakes. After clocking up more than 7,000 kilometres (4,240 miles), the duo held a two hour advantage over the second place finishers.

At the finish in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Christian Lavieille beamed: "We are so happy to have won such an extremely tough rally. Right from the start the Transsyberia ran so well for us that we could ease back the pace over the last three days. We didn't drive flat-out today as we had built up over an hour's gap to our closest opponent. I'm amazed what our Cayenne withstood over the last 7,000 kilometres. When you think of it, apart from a few minor modifications, it's a standard vehicle. Over the entire distance we only had to change the shock absorbers once. When I compare that to other rally vehicles it's almost unbelievable."

Spectators on the final stage experienced a real showdown. Armin Schwarz and Andi Schulz from Team Germany 1 had taken up the 87 kilometre stage with a 13 minute gap to the second placed Team Spain after falling back yesterday with an alternator problem.

Schwarz pulled out all stops and flew with his 385 hp Cayenne over the fast tracks near Mongol Els, overtaking nine vehicles. But it was not enough to catch the Spaniards. With less than a six minute advantage, Pau Soler and Laia Peinado defended their second position. Soler breathed a sigh of relief at the finish: "We were under extreme pressure today. We knew that Armin would drive full tilt and it would be a close fight for second. I kept asking Laia how far we were from the finish. I never took my eyes off the rear vision mirror. Finally, second was ours. The competition at this year's rally was fierce and very exhausting. We are very proud to be second."

Armin Schwarz and Andi Schulz celebrated their sixth leg win today and demonstrated again that they would have been far up in the rankings had it not been for the time penalties and the stage 13 alternator problem. No other team was able to secure as many leg victories as the Germans. "On this special stage there was no chance to make up the 13 minutes separating us from the Spaniards. Overtaking seemed impossible. Still, we were able to pass all opponents today. It cost us a lot of time waiting for the right moment to get past. More than another leg win was simply not possible," summarized Schwarz. "Still, despite this, I'm happy to climb the podium with Andi."

That fact that Schwarz and Schulz finished at all can be credited to the American team of Ryan Millen and Colin Godby, who were out of contention for the overall win by stage 13, but came upon Schwarz/Shultz on the side of the road yesterday with that failed alternator. They hooked up the Cayenne S Transsyberia to their own, and towed the Team Porsche Germany #1 car through the stage.

"After a while we realized we too were starting to have an alternator problem. We pulled Armin for as long as we could. But finally, after almost two TransSyberia Rallys, nearly 10,000 incredibly tough kilometers, two Leipzig training sessions and about 25 laps of Daytona International Speedway (including running flat out on the banking with 917s, 962s and the RS Spyder!) at Rennsport Reunion III, our transmission gave out. At that point, Armin and Andi took an hour and repaired their alternator, then continued on their way," said Millen.

"Our Cayenne performed and handled flawlessly through extremely rough conditions, and we were poised for a top five finish before we got stuck and received our ten-hour penalty on Monday. This rally was rougher than all the Baja races we have run combined - and those were in specialty-built race trucks - our Cayenne was certainly up to the task," Millen pointed out.

The support truck came along and towed the Americans to the end of the stage. After assessing the damage - the trans, the alternator and the lingering effects of the suspension and CV joint damage we suffered the other day, the technicians basically said it was too much to repair, so Team USA of the 2008 TransSyberia Rally. While Armin lost an hour, Millen and Godby were done.

"It's funny. Colin and I feel kind of deflated, yet kind of invigorated - while the rally wound up being disappointing in the end, we really felt like we grew. We learned a lot - about this kind of rally and we learned a lot about ourselves. We also learned a lot about our Cayenne S. It's going to sound like a commercial, but our Cayenne took a heck of a beating. Two beatings, actually - 2007 and 2008. When we got to Moscow, someone said it is hard to understand just how long this trip, this adventure really is, both in time and distance. Well, it was 7,000 kilometers of some of the most beautiful landscape in the world. And Moscow seems like lifetime ago. What a great experience," said Millen.

The Americans were as high as seventh overall in the standings, and finished 15th overall.

Second in today's stage 14 standings went to Team Russia 1 with Denis Levyatov and Sergey Talantsev. The pair finished six minutes behind Schwarz/Schulz. Reason enough for Levyatov to be satisfied: "Today's special stage was the first where we had no problems. We found the right way and the car ran perfectly. Had all days been like this we would have been more than happy. But what counts is that we've finished. When you cross that finish line you are always happy."

Further comments from Porsche pilots at the finish:

Pedro Gameiro (Team Portugal): "The rally was fantastic. An awesome experience! After the first special stage we were in the lead and held this position almost until Mongolia. But unfortunately it wasn't a one week rally but one that still had a long way to go to Ulaanbaatar. We experienced problems with navigating in the second half of the rally. Still, my co-driver Pedro did a great job. To take third overall amongst so many top teams is fantastic. As far as our Cayenne is concerned I'm very happy. Driving this car is huge fun."

Christian Pfeil-Schneider (Colombian Arrow): "We drove cautiously today and didn't wager an attack. We were an hour behind our closest rival and had two hours advantage over our closest pursuer. After not reaching the finish in Ulaanbaatar last year I'm a very pleased man today. The rally was tough again this year. Our Cayenne has conquered this adventure twice now and got through without any major problems. My co-driver Thomas Steuer is one reason why we did so well. He navigated me for the first time. I also have to thank Porsche Latin America and our parents for their support."

Dave Morley (Team Australia): "The 2008 Transsyberia was progress for us. We reached the finish - with our Cayenne. We're thrilled about this. Above all, such a success is a real relief. We really wanted to finish the rally. The reason this worked was due to a sentence that we have repeated many times this year: Never give up!"

Carles Celma (Team Germany 2): "This year's rally was harder and more demanding than last year. The vehicles had to withstand extreme stresses in parts. Moreover, the competition this year was tougher. There were many in the field who could easily have won. The key to success again lay in precise navigation. Our aim was to finish in the top five, but we had a lot of bad luck. We're happy to have reached the finish and that our Cayenne survived the ordeal."

Hirohisa Kaneko (Team Japan): "Just before the finish we took a completely wrong turn. Suddenly we saw flags in our rear vision mirror and turned around. But there are worse things. We're pleased to have made it. Above all we didn't have any accidents and stayed healthy. This is the most important thing over such a long distance. We very much enjoyed this year's Transsyberia Rally."

The Transsyberia Rally started on 11th July on Moscow's Red Square and finished on 25th July in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar after a total of over 7,000 kilometres.

<pre> Final overall classification Transsyberia Rally 2008

 1. Lavieille/Borsotto      Team France      Porsche  27:13.27 hrs
 2. Soler/Peinado           Team Spain       Porsche   2:15.25 behind
 3. Schwarz/Schulz          Team Germany 1   Porsche   2:21.14
 4. Gameiro/Figueiredo      Team Portugal    Porsche   2:54.36
 5. Levyatov/Talantsev      Team Russia 1    Porsche   3:53.15
 6. Celma/Unger             Team Germany 2   Porsche   8:18.55
 7. Baier/Steinbring        Teambuctou       Toyota    9:49.40
 8. Pfeil-Schneider/Steuer  Colombian Arrow  Porsche  10:59.13
 9. Szustkowski/Kazberuk    STT Racing       Porsche  13:19.33
10. Ogawa/Kaneko            Team Japan       Porsche  21:52.18

15. Millen/Godby Team USA Porsche 33:34:33

-credit: kgpr

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