7 days until the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile

Nightshift for the co-drivers: Road book is key to success

Wolfsburg (27 December 2008). As the Volkswagen drivers relax and recharge their batteries in the bivouac after one of the Dakar Rally^Òs 14 stages, their co-drivers already start preparing for the following day. In the so-called road book, which is distributed every evening, a rough route of the next day^Òs stage is depicted. Before the start in the morning this route plan must be perfected individually. Experience counts very little in this case: During the Dakar Rally^Òs premiere in South America between 3 and 18 January the conditions are same for every driver and co-driver.

The organiser used an abbreviation and arrow system to mark junctions, distinctive places, bridges and also kilometre information in the road book. "I then mark especially important information such as direction changes and dangerous places with different colours. On top of these come sudden changes to the track which we must add,^Ô says Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) who guides Giniel de Villiers (ZA) through Argentina and Chile in one of the four Volkswagen Race Touareg 2.

The road book is of particular importance in such a high-tech vehicle as the Race Touareg: While a small screen in almost every production car today shows the way, modern map systems are banned in cross country rallying. For this reason, the Volkswagen co-drivers only make their way to the tent or hotel bed when they know that their meticulously prepared written "navigation system^Ô is under their pillow. Michel Périn, co-driver for two-time Rally World Champion Carlos Sainz, knows this only too well: "I can only sleep well if I know that I´ve prepared myself perfectly to one hundred per cent.^Ô

-credit: vw