66 days until the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile

"Dakar" ready: Race Touareg completes final test in Morocco

Wolfsburg. The last check before the big task: At a seven-day final test in Morocco to prepare for the 2009 Dakar Rally the Volkswagen Race Touareg covered a 2,500-kilometre distance through varied terrain by delivering promising performance without the slightest problems. After the final proving, which took place around the town of Erfoud, the engineers and technicians gave the 280-hp cross-country rally prototype the "Dakar"-ready seal of approval -- ready for the maiden race of the desert classic in Argentina and Chile. The Dakar Rally will start in Buenos Aires on 03 January and will end at the same place on 18 January. The test, which represented the ultimate fine-tuning of the vehicle's set-up, was run by one Race Touareg 2 as well as the driver/co-driver pairings Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA).

"On the seven test days in Morocco we took both the Race Touareg and the drivers to the limit once more in order to be prepared as best we can when we move across the starting ramp of the 'Dakar'," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Our focus was on proving components as well as performing set-up work and tyre tests. In addition, a mechanics training programme for the drivers and co-drivers was an important item on the agenda. The way the team works together, the performance capability of the Race Touareg and the class of driving skills - all of this perfectly fit in this test and the team's interaction was perfectly harmonized. We're ready for the 'Dakar'."

"Dakar" virtues put to the test: reliability and speed

At so-called long runs the Volkswagen factory duos completed final tests dedicated to fine-tuning the suspension set-up on the one hand and testing new brake linings as well as the new tyre model form partner BF Goodrich on the other. The central focus during the preparations for the world's toughest and longest rally was on achieving the perfect balance between optimum reliability and high performance. To be prepared for any contingency, the driver/co-driver pairings received mechanics training on location to acquire the requisite skills enabling them to help themselves with repairs in case of an emergency.

The terrain around the Moroccan town of Erfoud that was selected for the tests offered "Dakar"-typical, varied sections: In addition to hard gravel and stony passages, the Volkswagen Race Touareg mastered sandy stretches. Heavy rainfalls at the beginning of the tests, which took place from 20 to 26 October, were equally challenging as dry days - dust, sand and rocks were mastered by the Volkswagen Dakar prototype with its innovative TDI turbo diesel engine without the slightest problems.

-credit: vw