"Dakar" winner Sainz in front again - de Villiers retired
Wolfsburg (15 September 2010). Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz took the lead again at the dress rehearsal for the Dakar Rally. The Volkswagen duo piloting a Race Touareg 3 at the Silk Way Rally through Russia heads the overall standings after five of eight legs. On the special stage from Volgograd to Astrakhan their team colleagues Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) set the third-fasted time and became the overall runners-up. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) in a third "Dakar" prototype from Wolfsburg are third overall and thus heading for a podium result as well.
For Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz on the other hand the Silk Way Rally ended early. The 2009 "Dakar" winning duo rolled over at kilometre 324 of the special stage after encountering a transverse rut in off-road terrain. Thanks to the safety concept of the Race Touareg the South African-German pairing sustained no injuries but was forced to retire due to the damaged cooling system of their car.
From Volgograd across the steppe into the Danube Delta to Astrakhan: the fifth leg took the entrants to the historic trading point between the Caspian Sea and the Silk Road which is world famous for its Beluga caviar. The longest special stage of the Silk Way Rally again offered the participants varied terrain with off-road navigation and dune sections with very soft sand.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"It's been a long and hard day with ups and downs. Our Race Touareg vehicles again ran without any problems and our four teams fought a captivating battle for stage victory. Unfortunately, Dirk von Zitzewitz and Giniel de Villiers caught a transverse rut and rolled over, which forced them to retire. The most important thing, though, is that neither was injured in the accident."
#100 - Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place leg / 1st place overall
"Today was a very thrilling day for all of us, it was a leg just like at the Dakar Rally. We did well straight from the start of the special stage and quickly recovered the two minutes we'd started behind Giniel de Villiers. Nasser Al-Attiyah, as well, caught up and the lead changed several times between us. In between we stopped and helped our team colleagues Giniel and Dirk who had rolled over."
#101 - Giniel de Villiers (ZA), retirement
"I'm hugely disappointed. To roll over at such a relatively harmless place is frustrating. Nasser Al-Attiyah, Carlos Sainz and we took turns leading the stage for some time. Just as we were leaving a dune belt we noticed a transverse rut that was about two metres wide and 50 centimetres deep too late. The car got caught in it and rolled over forwards coming to rest on the roof. With help from Carlos and Nasser we put it back on its wheels again and could have gone on. All systems were still running - just the cooling system was too heavily damaged to continue."
#102 - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 3rd place leg / 2nd place
"First of all: it's a shame that Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz retired after the roll-over. But sometimes that's just part of racing. Up to that moment it had been a really good day for us and we made up a lot of time. But after helping Giniel and Dirk and resuming our drive we got stuck in the dunes 100 kilometres before the finish. That again cost us a lot of time. If we hadn't gotten stuck we could have achieved an even better result."
#104 - Mark Miller (USA), 2nd place leg / 3rd place overall
"Apparently the moment of Ralph and I opening the course for a change was necessary. At the beginning of the leg we had some minor problems and were looking for the way here and there. But after overtaking Nasser Al-Attiyah, who had gotten stuck, and Carlos Sainz, who had gotten lost, things just clicked and we were working in perfect harmony. Now I'm hoping that we broke our duck because tomorrow will be as tough as the past days have been."
Number of the day
By the end of the Silk Way Rally the Volkswagen squad will probably have consumed 320 packs of instant soup and five kilograms of ground coffee to stay awake on long days. On average the crew only gets about four to five hours of sleep per night due to the service routes being almost 700 kilometres long.