Dakar: Volkswagen stage 15 report

Suspense to the finish for Volkswagen. Volkswagen successfully defended their lead in the competition for two wheel drive vehicles on the 15th stage of the Rallye Telefónica Dakar. At the same time, Volkswagen retained their one-two position ...

Suspense to the finish for Volkswagen.

Volkswagen successfully defended their lead in the competition for two wheel drive vehicles on the 15th stage of the Rallye Telef?nica Dakar. At the same time, Volkswagen retained their one-two position within the group for diesel vehicles with the Tarek which is powered by a 218 HP 1.9 litre TDI® unit. Nevertheless, the 477 kilometre long special stage between Luxor and Abu Rish in Egypt turned out to be a test of patience for both works drivers.

Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons.
Photo by Volkswagen Racing.

"There wasn't the slightest chance to overtake", as Jutta Kleinschmidt described her tricky situation. Because of a loose electrical connection yesterday, the ninth placed overall, together with her co-driver Fabrizia Pons, had to start from thirty-third position on Friday. "Not only did we have to overtake many immediate rivals in the car competition -- even some of the race trucks started in front of us. To overtake them we had to change to a parallel track and drive through impenetrable dust, which was very risky." The 2001 Dakar winner was promptly struck by bad luck: After she had daringly overtaken three competitors before the first checkpoint, she dropped back because of a slow puncture and finished the stage eleventh. In today's stage alone, she lost 4 minutes 18 seconds to her team colleague St?phane Henrard, while her nearest rival, Luc Alphand, reduced his deficit as tenth in the overall classification by a massive 13 minutes 36 seconds to a mere 10 minutes 15 seconds.

St?phane Henrard and co-pilot Bobby Willis did not have a completely trouble free day, as a temporary power loss meant the duo managed only the tenth fastest time, but nevertheless maintained seventh place overall. "The cause of the decrease in power was traced to a defect in the turbo ancillaries. The team found and cured the problem", explained Rudolf-Helmut Strozyk, director of Volkswagen Racing. "We again maintained our positions and lead the two wheel drive vehicle class, but nothing is cut and dried yet. On Saturday another 365 kilometres against the clock are on the agenda, and on Sunday, a further 34 kilometres. If we don't take any more risks and also don't push too hard, we will nevertheless attempt to defend our positions to the finish in Sharm El Sheikh."

-vw-

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Series Dakar
Drivers Luc Alphand , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Fabrizia Pons , Bobby Willis