Volkswagen interview with Kris Nissen

3 days till the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile Kris Nissen: "Enormous inner calm and confidence in the team" Wolfsburg (31 December 2008). Decision maker, strategist and motivator: As Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen is ...

3 days till the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile

Kris Nissen: "Enormous inner calm and confidence in the team"

Wolfsburg (31 December 2008). Decision maker, strategist and motivator: As Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen is responsible for the entry of four Race Touaregs in the legendary Dakar Rally. The 48-year old talks about the debut of the desert classic in Argentina and Chile between the 3 and 18 January, the targets and the fascination of the "Dakar" in which Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) start for the Wolfsburg based automobile manufacturer.

Volkswagen has given overall victory as its target for the Dakar Rally in South America. The self imposed pressure is high as a result as Sport Boss what keeps you calm?

Kris Nissen: "We have an excellent preparation phase behind us; in the Race Touareg we have an exceptionally reliable vehicle which underwent detail development and leading up to the Dakar the drivers and co-drivers have left nothing to chance. Over the course of the last year we know that we have improved our pace and increased our reliability in spite of this. As a consequence there wasnt a single adjustment to be made during our roll-out in Buenos Aires on 29 December. We have also achieved an enviable level of perfection with the logistics. All this makes the team extremely calm and confident. However, no matter how well prepared you are this rally always has a surprise in store, in the event of one cropping up they are easier to deal with."

Its traditional to start the New Year with a good resolution. Which strengths must Volkswagen possess to be successful in the Dakar Rally?

"As an example: to use the pressure positively. Many people expect Volkswagen to win the 2009 Dakar after having been so close in the past. I think that the entire team is more than capable of dealing with the expectations. In addition, its important that the team produces a one-hundred percent performance every day then Im convinced that we have a good chance of claiming overall victory."

Exactly why should the public follow the Dakar Rally as spectators for example on television or in the Internet?

"The variety. The Dakar doesnt only appeal to genuine motorsport fans but also to nature lovers, adventurers or also people who love extraordinary, crazy things. It is the hardest and longest race for man and machine. The Dakar Rally cannot be compared with anything else in motorsport. Lets not forget that it is a competition at the very highest level with unusual vehicles like the Race Touareg, the Mitsubishi, the X-raid-BMW or Robby Gordons Hummer."

As Sport Boss you are responsible for the entire squad like a football trainer. How do you actually ensure that the sense of unity and team spirit remain high?

"Thats correct. In cross country rallying and especially during the Dakar Rally you can only be successful if the entire team performs perfectly. This starts with the fact that every team member has a position that they completely absorbed by and enjoy doing. Our team has formed itself and grown together over the years. This isnt possible in the space of a few days or weeks. Its also important that everybody treats each other fairly and that everybody has more than one job. Everybody must be prepared to help their colleagues otherwise we cannot achieve our goals. If we stay with the football analogy: Everybody must play the forward on occasion, be the playmaker in midfield, or clear off the line for the goalkeeper. This is not always taken for granted in other areas of motorsport in our case it is imperative for success. The most important thing is: Our team lives and breathes these thoughts permanently."

-credit: vw

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Series DAKAR