Volkswagen claims fourth place
The 567 kilometre long ninth Rallye Telefonica Dakar stage again brought an improvement for Volkswagen. With their Volkswagen Tarek powered by a 1.9 Litre TDI® engine producing 218 HP, Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons set the sixth fastest time. As a result the women's team improved their position for the seventh day in succession, and after a majestic fight back from 64th position now lie fourth in the overall classification. "I'm really very pleased with the result, however today's stage was anything but pleasant", acknowledged the 2001 Dakar winner. "The first part was extremely quick, in the second section it was necessary to circumnavigate massive boulders. Neither element posed particularly high driving skills, only later were our skills in demand. Fabrizia mastered fantastically the difficult orienteering from the third check point to the finish." The Volkswagen driver used the tyre compressed air system to compensate for a slow puncture picked up at the very start of the stage.
Stephane Henrard and Bobby Willis in the second Tarek were plagued with bad luck, losing sixth position overall as they slipped to ninth. Two tyre failures and several damaged wheel rims meant that the Belgian headed at a snails pace to the bivouac and lost almost one hour to his team colleague.
"Despite the far greater ambient temperatures and the subsequent performance loss of the turbo, we put up a good show. That Jutta has again improved, speaks for itself", judged Rudolf-Helmut Strozyk, director of Volkswagen Racing. "The small failures that we experienced today prove that nothing can be taken for granted in this sport. Therefore, in spite of all the previous successes on the individual sections we should not set ourselves any audacious goals. Our objective is, as before, to reach the finish in Sharm El Sheikh with both cars and if possible with both Tarek's in the top ten."
Positions after the 9th stage: Sabha (LAR) -- Zilla (LAR); 567 km SS/585 km total.