Volkswagen retakes lead: Works driver Bruno Saby has taken the overall lead on the Dakar Rally's sixth stage in the Volkswagen Race-Touareg. On the first genuine desert-stage held over 492 kilometres between Smara and Zouerat in Mauritania,...
Volkswagen retakes lead: Works driver Bruno Saby has taken the overall lead on the Dakar Rally's sixth stage in the Volkswagen Race-Touareg.
On the first genuine desert-stage held over 492 kilometres between Smara and Zouerat in Mauritania, Bruno Saby and his French compatriot Michel Périn set the third fastest time. Saby/Périn head Luc Alphand by 40 seconds in the overall classification.
After the success of new signing Robby Gordon, who led the desert classic in the Race-Touareg on the first, second and fourth stages, a Volkswagen driver now heads the 9,039 kilometre rally for the third time in six days.
Team colleague Jutta Kleinschmidt improved two positions to third overall after scoring the day's seventh best result. Juha Kankkunen managed an improvement of two positions on the event's longest stage to date -- the Finn jumped to sixth overall after finishing tenth this evening.
Robby Gordon and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz can count their blessings: Both walked away unhurt after rolling their car. Nevertheless, they had to stop and wait for help from one of the two Volkswagen Race-Trucks. The first marathon-stage looms with the 660 kilometre stage from Zouerat to Tichit on Thursday, on which none of the chasing armada is available to offer help in the evening.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"The rally only really started today. We can be extremely satisfied with the overall lead and three prototypes in the top six. Thankfully Robby Gordon escaped unhurt from his accident. We will have to wait till the car is in the bivouac before we'll know whether he can continue or not."
#307 -- Bruno Saby (F), 3rd place (leg) / 1st position overall
"I'm happy to have taken the lead on this difficult stage after setting the third fastest time. The pace was quick although the route was littered with very deep potholes. We had a rear-left tyre failure."
#310 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 7th place (leg) / 3rd position overall
"You really needed to pay close attention during today's stage because of the strong winds and consequent bad visibility. A tyre came off the rim after we landed awkwardly following a jump. We changed the wheel and tyre and are really pleased to be third now."
#313 -- Juha Kankkunen (FIN), 10th place (leg) / 6th position overall
"An excellent day for us. I liked this stage, as it was very fast and challenging. However, we didn't take any risks -- seeing the finishing line on the first sand-stage was much more important."
From the Volkswagen bivouac
- Packing for the marathon: During the rally's seventh stage, the Volkswagen works drivers and the service-teams go there separate ways for the first time. On the marathon-stage from Zouerat to Tidjikja in Mauritania service work is prohibited in Tichit on 6th January. That's why important components were already packed in both the competing Race-Trucks on 4th January."
- Radio silence: Since crossing the border to Mauritania, both the Volkswagen drivers and accompanying vehicle armada have been without regular contact with their homes: After the luxury of GSM mobile telephones working in Morocco, radio silence now reigns in Mauritania. Satellite telephones are now in demand, with which at least every vehicle is equipped.
Three questions to logistic boss Paco Crous
What is so special about the marathon-stage on 6th and 7th January?
"This stage reflects the original thinking behind the 'Dakar', since working on the vehicles is forbidden in the bivouac. Only the driver, co-driver, team boss and the occupants of the Race-Truck can be present, the remaining team members drive directly to Tidjikja."
What is the job of the Race-Truck crew?
"They are allowed to help on the stage or tow the car to the bivouac. If problems occur with their cars, the drivers normally attempt to reach the bivouac and look to the truck for help the following morning, since the truck follows the car very closely considerably less time is usually lost."
Where do the drivers sleep during the marathon-stage?
"We play it safe: We booked accommodation and, in addition, organised a tent just in case it gets very late. For emergencies the drivers have a tent and sleeping bag in the car."