15 days until the 2010 Dakar Rally
Wolfsburg (18 December 2009). When the five Race Touaregs fielded by Volkswagen start the Dakar Rally on New Year's Day 2010 they will not be the only participants competing for the Volkswagen Group. Also registered in the competition are two MAN race trucks which, if the worst comes to the worst, act as mobile spare parts store and knight in shining armour.
It is extremely difficult for racers from other disciplines to imagine but, nevertheless, barely possible to solve in another way for the Dakar Rally: The team service vehicles support the race cars during the competition by competing along the same route! The background: Every other service vehicle from each team must often follow civilised roads instead of the treacherous terrain. During the Dakar Rally the basic rule applies: When the stop watch is running only participants can help each other. This is why many large teams enter special race trucks in the truck category.
This principle has quite obviously also proven itself at Volkswagen since the first day. The "knights in shining armour" have helped more than once by providing parts after small or larger accidents or towed defective race cars to the finish - clearly defined sport penalties included. During the two-day so-called marathon stages, of which there are none in 2010, only these race trucks were allowed to offer help in the past at the evening half-way halt.
This year two race trucks compete for Volkswagen. Francois Verbist/Jurgen Damen/Milko Laukamp (B/B/D) and Tom de Leeuw/Dirk van Obbergen/Thorsten Goldberg (B/B/D) are the occupants. The trucks traditionally start with three team members, because in addition to the driver and navigator a specially trained mechanic also usually takes a seat in the cab. The two MAN TGA 18.480 (4x4) and MAN TGA 26.480 (6x6) type trucks are specially prepared for their tasks: They are smaller, lighter and stronger than the remaining trucks in the armada. The two race trucks generate far more than 500 hp and 2,400 Nm torque from 12.5 litres capacity. Thanks to their permanent all-wheel drive and, for a commercial vehicle, relatively low weight of only ten tonnes (4x4) and twelve tonnes (6x6) fully loaded the "blue angels" are agile and all-terrain. The twin-axle trucks only carry the most necessary spare parts, tools and recovery equipment like welding sets in their small box-like construction. Once more these teams start the Dakar Rally in the hope never to be needed....
Volkswagen iPhone "Dakar" app: www.volkswagen-motorsport.com/dakar_iPhone