13 days till the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile

Volkswagen co-driver Timo Gottschalk with longest journey

Wolfsburg (21 December 2008). Buenos Aires instead of Lisbon and Dakar - the Dakar Rally's new start and finish point means a long journey for the Volkswagen team before the start on 3 January. The Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg are 11,778 kilometres away from the Argentinean capital - as the crow flies!

With a trip of 11,920 kilometres Berliner Timo Gottschalk, co-driver to Volkswagen driver Dieter Depping, must travel the furthest, however, the difference to his team mates Depping (Wedemark/Germany) and Dirk von Zitzewitz (Karlshof/Germany) is marginal. The only person who benefits in terms of travelling time from the desert classic being relocated is Giniel de Villiers: The Volkswagen factory driver previously had to travel 8,572 kilometres to Lisbon, to Buenos Aires it is a mere 6,690 kilometres. Race Touareg driver Mark Miller from Phoenix/USA must travel almost the same distance as years past; instead of 8,740 kilometres to Lisbon he must only put up with a few more minutes in the aircraft to Buenos Aires (9,416 km). The "loser" in this distance game is Carlos Sainz: The two-time rally World Champion from Madrid could easily drive the 500 kilometres to Lisbon in his car, now he must travel a respectable 10,059 kilometres to the "Dakar" start.

Volkswagen previously always shuttled its service vehicles and equipment by "wheel" to the 2,164 kilometre distant Lisbon, however, this time the transport is made by sea from Le Havre via 11,000 kilometres to Buenos Aires. The four Volkswagen Race Touareg rally cars were flown the 11,640 kilometres from Amsterdam to Argentina.

At a distance of approximately 9,500 kilometres the challenge of the Dakar Rally has remained about the same as the earlier events in North Africa. Last time the start in Lisbon was separated by 2,798 kilometres from the finish in Senegal. In South America only 1,232 kilometres as the crow flies separate the start point Buenos Aires, on 18 January also the finish of the "Dakar", with the farthest stage finish Valparaiso in Chile where the sole rest day is scheduled on 10 January.

-credit: volkswagen