Dakar: Volkswagen stage ten report

Volkswagen with Jutta Kleinschmidt still third Volkswagen works driver Jutta Kleinschmidt in third place for sixth successive day: The speedy German lady took third overall in the Dakar Rally on 5th January and defended this position again on ...

Volkswagen with Jutta Kleinschmidt still third

Volkswagen works driver Jutta Kleinschmidt in third place for sixth successive day: The speedy German lady took third overall in the Dakar Rally on 5th January and defended this position again on Monday on the demanding tenth stage in Mauritania.

On the loop with its start and finish in Atar, containing countless dune crossings, as well as passes, camel grass and a Chott (a dry lake), Kleinschmidt and co-driver Fabrizia Pons again finished third on the day, just as they had on the fifth and seventh stages. Robby Gordon came home again in the leading group in fourth place with his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz in another Race-Touareg. Team colleague Bruno Saby, previously ninth overall, lost some time due to a small problem with the gear shift mechanism at the beginning of the 483 kilometre stage. Juha Kankkunen, the fourth Volkswagen works driver, helped the Frenchman to repair the damage.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)

"Jutta drove well and maintained her excellent overall position on yet another punishing stage. Our strategy paid off completely: Robby follows Jutta, to be in a position to offer support immediately. So he helped her today when she got bogged down. At the same time Juha is Bruno's wingman -- this also paid off today when there was a small problem with the gear shift."

#310 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 3rd place (leg) / 3rd position overall

"I survived the loop well and am satisfied to be third still. Thanks to Robby's assistance we lost around five minutes less than we would have normally needed to dig ourselves out of the sand. At the same time I let the tyre pressure down a little, which was an advantage in the soft dunes later. Towards the end we lost our bearings briefly and lost the way and ended up driving for about 20 kilometres off the normal track."

#317 -- Robby Gordon (USA), 4th place (leg)

"Finishing fourth is a good result -- particularly as we stopped repeatedly today. We spent about five minutes at the scene of Grégoire de Mevius' accident, later we helped Jutta after she had got bogged down. Dirk's navigation was again excellent, although there were several tough calls in the first third of the roadbook."

From the Volkswagen bivouac

- Sunday peace: The Volkswagen works drivers used yesterday's Dakar Rally rest day for PR activities. Jutta Kleinschmidt and Dirk von Zitzewitz gave interviews for German TV stations. Kankkunen's co-driver Juha Repo spent the day relaxing in the hotel. All the drivers sorted out their luggage and shook out the sand before the rally's second half.

- Gordon in racing stress: The American racing season starts for Volkswagen works driver Robby Gordon just a few days after the finish of the Dakar Rally. "I'll drive races on 36 weekends", says the circuit racing pro, who competes with his own team in the American NASCAR series. His first test: 18th and 19th January in Daytona -- so only two days after arriving at the finish of the Dakar Rally.

Three questions to Volkswagen mechanic Martin Hassenpflug

At 24 years of age you are one of the youngest team members and 'Dakar' Rookie. What experiences have you made at this, the half-way point?

"The teamwork is very good. However, the atmosphere is totally different to that found at the circuit, where I worked previously. I had already settled in well during the tests in Morocco and at the UAE Desert Challenge."

What is new for you?

"The length of the rally is new. The days are also long because we spend many hours in the Service-Truck and often work long into the evening. I have no problems camping in the bivouac -- quite the opposite actually as it is good fun."

What is so fascinating about the 'Dakar'?

"We also see the many privateers, who save for a whole year for this rally and with hardly any equipment, but masses of enthusiasm fight through the desert."

-vw-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Juha Kankkunen , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Fabrizia Pons , Gregoire de Mevius , Bruno Saby , Juha Repo , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport