Volkswagen completes good "Dakar" test in Morocco
Wolfsburg (01 September 2008). Volkswagen intensively prepared for the 2009 Dakar Rally with two weeks of testing in Morocco. The main focus during the endurance and component tests conducted in the desert region around Erfoud between 18 and 29 August was on the technical evolution of the Race Touareg 2 "Dakar" prototype and on adapting it to the new terrain in South America. For the first time the classic "Dakar" will lead through Argentina and Chile from 03 to 18 January 2009. Following the test in Morocco Volkswagen will field three of the 280-hp diesel-powered vehicles in the second round of the Dakar Series in Portugal from 10 to 14 September to assess its performance capabilities yet again. Volkswagen had won the first round of the Dakar Series through Hungary and Romania at the end of April as well as the Rallye dos Sertões through Brazil in June.
"On balance, the tests in Morocco were positive. The Race Touareg is a proven and successful cross-country rally vehicle and the team is working hard to prepare the vehicle for the specific challenges of the new 'Dakar' in an optimum manner," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Particularly small optimisations can result in major progress in cross-country rally sport. I think we managed to do this with our newly developed components. In the area of the suspension geometry and set-up we made a step forwards as well as in terms of improving the drivers' vision with a modified front bonnet and new seating position."
Testing of Volkswagen's entire "Dakar" line-up
Volkswagen also performed so-called long runs around Erfoud, reeling off more than the special stage distance of a "Dakar" in competitive conditions. The two Race Touaregs used in the tests completed over 7,000 kilometres on stony ground and across sandy passages with dunes. The cockpits were manned by the four proven driver/co-driver pairings who will contest the 2009 "Dakar" for Volkswagen as well: Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D).
In Morocco the team also tested the new "All Terrain" tyre model supplied by Volkswagen's Partner BFGoodrich. The vehicle set-up of the Race Touareg was optimally adapted to the new tyre development. "The new tyre model from BFGoodrich performed very well on any type of ground," said the two-time World Rally Champion and current Cross-Country Rally World Cup winner Carlos Sainz, speaking on behalf of his fellow drivers as well.