Three questions to Volkswagen factory driver Carlos Sainz

This is your second Dakar Rally start, how do you feel?

"I drove a lot of tests last season and competed in three Cross Country Rally World Cup events. Especially since starting the UAE Desert Challenge, where we were able to win three stages, I feel that I've collected a great deal of experience on sand and in the desert. However, the 'Dakar' is tough and when compared to drivers like Ari Vatanen I'm a relative newcomer in this sport."

You were able to win the opening stages in Portugal last year. Is the pressure greater now as a result?

"It's a completely different ball game this year. The stages are completely different this year, which is why we couldn't draw on much of last year's information. In general, however, both of the opening stages suit me because they are typical rally stages."

Do you go to the limit on these stages?

"No, since you stand to lose much more than you can win on these short stages. It's important for me to get through these relatively short Portuguese stages without problems. At the end of the day, the only thing that counts is the result after crossing the finish line in Dakar after two weeks of rallying. Also, it's not possible to drive on the limit when you have to follow a road book without notes."

-credit: vw motorsport