24 days until the 2010 Dakar Rally
Volkswagen's pioneering achievement in the toughest rally
Wolfsburg (09 December 2009). Thirty-one years ago on 26 December 1978 the first ever Dakar Rally started from the Place du Trocadero. At the same time Volkswagen was busy working on direct injection technology, which the brand offers under the name TDI since 1991. Nobody would probably have expected at that time that exactly 30 years after the inaugural event a diesel rally vehicle would triumph. However, it is exactly with this pioneering achievement that Volkswagen wrote history in January 2009 with the Race Touareg and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz.
You must bear one thing in mind: As Dakar Rally history began a production Golf Diesel in its first generation produced exactly 50 hp from a 1.5 litre engine - turbo charging still did not exist. When Volkswagen set international records at Nardo in October 1980 with the 362 km/h aerodynamic research vehicle ARVW, a modified 2.4 litre turbo diesel engine with 175 hp from the LT utility vehicle was sufficient as power plant. Just one year later the general public were astonished: At the IAA in Frankfurt the "Auto 2000" study was on display. For the first time Volkswagen unveiled a diesel direct injection. At a constant speed of 120 km/h the four-seat vehicle consumed only 4.1 litres for 100 kilometres. The SMVW was significantly more extreme. The three-wheeled mini vehicle travelled 1,491 kilometres around the test track at Ehra-Lessien consuming only one litre of diesel in the process. Its 25 cc one-cylinder direct injection diesel engine produced only 200 watts of power.
A direct line links this extreme prototype development with the first 1.9 litre four-cylinder TDI, which is available since October 1991. It did not take long before Volkswagen specifically marketed the sporting characteristics of diesel power. In 1996 the legendary Golf GTI appeared as TDI with 110 hp. In parallel two race versions producing 170 hp competed in the 24-hour Nurburgring. Only one year later in 1997 Kris Nissen, Christian Abt and Jurgen Hohenester finished this race in second position overall, and in Italy Volkswagen took overall victory in the 6 hours of Vallelunga.
The journey led from the race track to the desert: Volkswagen competed as factory for the first time with TDI power in 2003. The Race Touareg and its five-cylinder TDI engine has revolutionised the sport since the 2004 Dakar Rally. Its power climbed from an original 231 hp to now more than 300. Volkswagen wrote history after winning the 2009 Dakar Rally. A car with diesel power had never previously won the world's toughest desert rally. The overall balance from five years Race Touareg: 36 podium positions, including twelve victories, 14 second places and ten third places. The Volkswagen concern has, as first manufacturer, also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans (Audi 2006-2008), the World Touring Car Championship WTCC (SEAT 2008-2009) and the Dakar Rally with TDI diesel technology.