From 2 to 3: new Race Touareg for "Dakar" hat-trick mission

A world debut alongside chariots and gladiators: Volkswagen presented the Race Touareg 3 to the public in a spectacular show.

In the nearly 2000-year-old amphitheatre in Trier, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the duos who aim to secure the brand's third consecutive "Dakar" victory in South America from 01 to 16 January 2011 unveiled the 310-hp four-wheel-drive vehicle in front of a crowd of some 1,000 enthusiastic spectators. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) showed the "RT3" in "Dakar" trim for the first time.

"The Dakar Rally is a mystique. Everything's got to be right to conquer it," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Technology, drivers, service and logistics - every single aspect is crucial. Anyone aiming to finish the 'Dakar' at the very top has to first conquer the rally itself and then beat their rivals. We've learned a lot in the past few years. All of these things had to be considered in the development of a new vehicle - I believe we've found the ideal mix of revolution and evolution for our Race Touareg 3."

The Dakar Rally is regarded as the greatest challenge in worldwide motorsport. Volkswagen has revolutionised cross-country rally sport with the Race Touareg 2 and TDI technology - and decided the legendary "Dakar" twice in its favour in the past two years. Volkswagen is the only manufacturer so far to have won the automobile classification of the desert classic with diesel power. For 2011 the goal has been clearly defined: Volkswagen is set on taking the trophy to Wolfsburg for the third consecutive time. For the "Dakar" hat-trick mission the squad leaves nothing to chance: in January 2011 four newly developed Race Touareg 3 vehicles - successor models of the successful model version 2 - will cross the starting ramp in Buenos Aires. Their task: to again victoriously master the endurance test consisting of the legendary Pampas, the dizzying altitudes of the Andes and the gruelling Atacama desert in Argentina and Chile.

Revolution and evolution: updated "Dakar" technology in the "RT3"

To achieve the big aim of clinching the "Dakar" hat-trick, Volkswagen banks on the logical and consistent evolution of the Race Touareg 2 into the model version 3. The specifications issued to the engineers for this project contained three major headlines: improvement of the cooling system, optimized gearbox tuning and more power for driving at high altitudes. In addition, the engineers' agenda included detailed work to increase the performance capabilities of the two-time Dakar Rally winning Race Touareg 2 even further. The results achieved now reveal a prototype with completely renewed aerodynamics that builds on a proven chassis of its predecessor.

Race Touareg 3: a major aerodynamic step for the "Dakar"

The Race Touareg 3 makes a big aerodynamic step forwards - the biggest one since the model change from the original Race-Touareg to model version two. The main focus during the development of the 310-hp cross-country rally prototype was put on optimising aerodynamics. In addition, the designers adapted the distinctive look of the Touareg II production "sibling" for the "Dakar" version: like the road-going model, the Race Touareg displays its dynamic character traits in its exterior form as well.

The Race Touareg 3's most obvious change compared with the predecessor model is found in the roof area where the air flow towards the radiator, the damper cooling and the diesel fuel cooling systems has been radically changed. The objective was to improve the chimney effect to remove the heat which accumulates under the carbon fibre-reinforced cladding while optimising air supply in the process.

Intercooling - 100 per cent made by Volkswagen

For the intercooling system the team of Volkswagen Motorsport engineers drew on proven components from the production side of the house. The cooling element of the intercooler - a supplier component in any motorsport discipline - was designed and produced for the Race Touareg 3 by the prototyping department of the Volkswagen brand. Thanks to the experience gained with production vehicles the entire intercooling distance suffers less pressure losses - a gain in efficiency which is directly reflected in improved power output. Due to this and other detailed work the 2.5-litre TDI diesel engine version for the 2011 Dakar Rally now delivers 229 kW (310 hp) - seven kW (ten hp) more than the unit used in the Race Touareg 2.

Race Touareg 3 vs. Race Touareg 2: progress in the sum total of details

A revolution of the exterior form, an evolution under the bonnet - initial tests suggest how well this philosophy is working out for the detailed further development of the Race Touareg 2 into the model version 3. In three-week tests held in Spain and Morocco the new car was tested in a direct comparison with the old model. During the tests around Mahmid with temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius and endurance tests around Erfoud the Race Touareg 3 covered some 10,000 kilometres of simulated special stages without any significant technical problems - this equates to the double "Dakar" distance and exceeds the total number of kilometres driven in the races of an entire Formula 1 season.

Experience is trumps: a proven driver line-up for the 2011 Dakar Rally

At the 2011 Dakar Rally that starts and finishes in Buenos Aires and covers about 4,500 kilometres of special stages through Argentina and Chile (01 -16 January 2011) Volkswagen will rely on four proven driver/co-driver duos. The 2010 "Dakar" winners, Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), will pilot one of the four Race Touareg 3 as will Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), the 2010 "Dakar" runners-up, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), the 2009 "Dakar" winners, and their team colleagues Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), who were just barely beaten in that event.

-source: volkswagen