14 days till the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile

Festivities before the "Dakar": Christmas in the Volkswagen team

Wolfsburg (20 December 2008). First Christmas then desert rally: Whether in Spain, France, South Africa, Germany or in the USA, before the Dakar Rally starts in South America on 3 January a Christmas party is on the agenda for the Volkswagen drivers. As chequered as the four teams are -- Carlos Sainz and Michel Perin (Spain/France), Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany), Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) and Dieter Depping and Timo Gottschalk (both Germany) -- so varied are the Christmas celebrations.

In Spain, the homeland of Carlos Sainz, the three Magi only bring the presents on 6 January - at this time Sainz has been en-route for some time in the Dakar Rally. "I travel to the start in Buenos Aires on 27 December. Before then I'll enjoy the time with my family. Obviously there is great food at Christmas - however, I'll have to keep myself under control as I don't want all my hard training for the rally to be for nothing," says Sainz. His co-driver Michel Perin also refrains from participating in a national but calorie rich tradition only days before the "Dakar": On the 24 December the French love to indulge themselves with sumptuous pleasures like "Dinde aux marons" a turkey garnished with sweet chestnuts or "Reveillon" a banquet of oysters, pastries and turkey. "I'll make up for it with my family after the Dakar Rally," states Perin.

In contrast the Germans Dieter Depping, Dirk von Zitzewitz and Timo Gottschalk enjoy the culinary spectrum of sausages with potato salad to traditional goose. "The Christmas goose is a must for us," says co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. "The holidays belong to the family; after all I'm out and about for more than three weeks afterwards."

In Giniel de Villiers' and Ralph Pitchford's homeland South Africa "Boxing Day" on 26 December enjoys a long tradition when boxes are packed with presents for the poorer population. On the other hand, Santa Claus in the USA brings presents on the night before 25 December - even for Mark Miller and his family.

-credit: volkswagen-motorsport.info