The countdown has started: The Volkswagen works team completed technical and administrative scrutineering for participation in the Dakar Rally with the five Race Touareg 2 prototypes and all the 22 service and accompanying vehicles registered for...
The countdown has started: The Volkswagen works team completed technical and administrative scrutineering for participation in the Dakar Rally with the five Race Touareg 2 prototypes and all the 22 service and accompanying vehicles registered for the rally in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on 29 December.
Motorsport Director Kris Nissen and the five works duos Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons (D/I), Mark Miller/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D), Bruno Saby/Michel Perin (F/F), Carlos Sainz/Andy Schulz (E/D) and Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thorner (ZA/S) are confident before the start of the 28th running of the world's toughest desert rally. The "Dakar" starts on New Year's Eve with an 83 kilometre stage south of Lisbon and finishes on 15 January in Dakar, Senegal.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"After a very impressive season in 2005, which included winning the FIA Cross Country World Cup title, many people expect that things will continue as before. We are well prepared for the forthcoming rally days. Every team member is asked to do everything that we have learnt in the previous two years. There is no pressure on us from above, but actually from within, since everybody in the team wants to be at the front. This is a healthy attitude: Volkswagen is involved in motorsport to win. Nevertheless we know that we have to beat an opponent who has set the standards for many years. We expect an extremely hard battle. Among the competitors are not just Mitsubishi but also BMW and a Schlesser-Buggy. We must never forget that the Dakar Rally is the toughest race in motorsport, and that the rally is incredibly hard for man and machine. We drive as many kilometres in one event as other racing series' complete in a complete season -- and all this without the possibility of changing much in between."
#302 -- Bruno Saby (F)
"It's a great feeling that we start as one of the favourite teams after having won the FIA Cross Country World Cup title for Volkswagen. During the first event with the Volkswagen Race Touareg it was all about learning. A podium finish was the target in the second outing. This year we hope that we can fight for victory. We have a good chance; however the competition is very strong. The strongest opposition comes from my fellow countryman Stephane Peterhansel who has already won the rally six-times on a motorbike and twice with a car."
# 302 -- Michel Perin (F)
"At the moment there's absolutely nothing else in my head apart from 'Dakar' -- I'm completely focused on this event. Our target is to win, but having said that we also want to help our team mates because success for Volkswagen is the main priority. Our Race Touareg is in top form, we had a very good roll-out before Christmas in Madrid, where we completed about 60 kilometres. The team fulfilled my wishes down to the smallest detail -- such as positioning the foot rest perfectly and the exact alignment of the GPS device."
# 303 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)
"The tension is increasing: The final preparations were concluded over the last couple of days. It rained on Thursday, and so we are now very interested to see just how the conditions are on the first two stages in Portugal. The team's expectations are crystal clear, we obviously want to win. It's a race and you never know what's going to happen. That's why you can't predict success. However, in the Race Touareg we have a vehicle with which you can fight for victory. If I don't manage it, I hope that one of my team mates takes the spoils at the end."
# 303 -- Fabrizia Pons (I)
"It's unbelievable just how much I'm looking forward to the start of this rally. This is my fourth Dakar Rally start and this time the Race Touareg 2 and the team are even better than ever before. I'm particularly intrigued by the new navigation regulations and just how they prove to be in practice."
# 305 -- Giniel de Villiers (ZA)
"I'm very pleased that the 'Dakar' starts in Lisbon this year. It's a beautiful city; the atmosphere at the rally centre in the harbour is excellent. This location saves the drivers the long connecting stage all the way through Europe to Africa, so the genuine desert stages, which I'm really looking forward to, start very soon."
# 305 -- Tina Thorner (S)
"I can hardly wait for the start. There is a good atmosphere in our cockpit, through his calm Giniel exudes a great deal of strength. We also get on very well with the engineers and mechanics. I'm not really nervous, but sense a positive tension. I'm convinced that Giniel has the potential to mix-it with the best drivers, and I hope as co-driver that I can also play my part."
# 307 -- Carlos Sainz (E)
"Only a few hours before my Dakar Rally debut, then I can finally see for myself what this marathon classic is all about, particularly as I only know it from so many stories. The first two stages in Portugal will certainly suit me because I already know the terrain from the World Rally Championship. However, the rally will be decided in Africa."
# 307 -- Andy Schulz (D)
"Carlos and I believe that a podium finish is possible on his 'Dakar' debut. We were satisfied after the tests, but I think that I'll have to support him a little more on the marathon stage. I'll certainly have to help him to pace himself, or at least to put the tent up to start with."
# 309 -- Mark Miller (USA)
"I'm a specialist for the American Baja rallies; the 'Dakar' is something completely different. I've been preparing for this for three months in Europe and Africa and now the time has finally come. I feel a little like I'm about to start my first day at University after years at high school -- this a new start, where I have to prove myself in a higher category. My target over the opening days is to secure a place in the top 10 and not to lose contact with the vehicles in front of me. The decisive moments will fall on the seventh, eighth and ninth stages -- and to this point I don't want to take any risks."
# 309 -- Dirk von Zitzewitz (D)
"We expect a very difficult 'Dakar' with an equally competitive field of starters. At the finish, the team which makes the least amount of mistakes will certainly be at the front. The new navigation regulations significantly limiting the use of a GPS system are a real challenge. These new rules certainly make my job as co-driver more difficult, but at the same time more interesting."