Jutta Kleinschmidt tightens grip on third place with Volkswagen Yet another world class performance by Volkswagen works driver Jutta Kleinschmidt: The speedy Germany lady and her Italian co-driver Fabrizia Pons tightened their grip on third...
Jutta Kleinschmidt tightens grip on third place with Volkswagen
Yet another world class performance by Volkswagen works driver Jutta Kleinschmidt: The speedy Germany lady and her Italian co-driver Fabrizia Pons tightened their grip on third place overall during the seventh and, at the same time, the Dakar Rally's most difficult and, at 660 kilometres, longest stage. The female duo reached the finish of the so-called marathon-stage in Mauritania as third best team. No service work is permitted at the end of the desert stage between Zouerat and Tichit -- the Race-Touareg, powered by a 260 PS 2.5-litre five-cylinder diesel TDI engine, was parked in Parc fermé along with all the other vehicles ready to attack the second part of the marathon-stage held over 520 kilometres to Tidjikja on Friday. Team colleague Bruno Saby and co-driver Michel Périn, who started the seventh stage as leaders, fell down the order for, as yet unknown reasons, just as Juha Kankkunen and his co-driver Juha Repo did. Robby Gordon continued the rally on Thursday after a fantastic team effort: The Volkswagen team repaired the US-American's Race-Touareg overnight after he rolled the previous afternoon and had only arrived at the finish around midnight towed by a Volkswagen Race-Truck. Gordon and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz were on their way again at 12:40 P.M. -- they started from 115th position and had worked their way up to twelve place already at the first check point on the stage.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"On a turbulent and extremely difficult stage Jutta and Fabrizia drove faultlessly and defended their place at the head of the field. My sincere congratulations also go to the team that made Robby Gordon's car driveable again during the night. Even more regrettable is that Bruno, who was leading, also suffered a setback just as Juha did."
#310 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 3rd place (leg) / 3rd position overall
"Quite honestly I'm relieved that we survived the day in such good condition. Every aspect of that stage was incredibly tough. The strong headwind and bad visibility in the sand storm demanded every ounce of concentration. The camel grass at the end was an unpleasant obstacle after the very tricky dunes."
From the Volkswagen bivouac
- Night shift: Robby Gordon arrived at the bivouac in Zouerat just before midnight following his accident on stage six. The Volkswagen works driver: "We caught up with a car, and changed to the left lane. Immediately following a small jump there was a second hump-back jump, which we hit on landing and launched us into a series of rolls." The team had a busy night shift. "We changed suspension, clutch and steering", stated Chief Engineer Eduard Weidl. "At six o'clock in the morning everything was ready."
- Alone in the desert: Only isolation awaits the drivers at the marathon bivouac, since only a few solitary houses stand on a gravel wilderness stretching as far as the eye can see. The ground is so hard that the supply aeroplanes can park anywhere on the open ground they choose. In the evening only the drivers and Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen are allowed in the bivouac.
- Forgetful driver: Just before the start of the marathon stage Volkswagen works driver Robby Gordon forgot his washing bag. In Tichit, where there are no shops, the American had to borrow a toothbrush and razor from his team colleagues.
Three questions to Volkswagen team doctor Sonja Witten
What does a team doctor do during the Dakar Rally?
"I look after all 62 team staff. Typical jobs include looking after the injured, administering precautions against malaria and medical care after accidents. Cases of diarrhoea and sun stroke are common. I'm stationed in the bivouac so that everybody can find me."
What is the difference to the responsibilities of a general practitioner?
"Here it is more a question of getting the people back on their feet as soon as possible so that they continue, because during the long rally you have no chance to cure an illness."
Did you equip the drivers especially for the marathon-stage?
"No since they are already well looked after. They receive foods high in carbohydrates and have drinks on board. Also, there is a first-aid box with bandages and some medicines."