Volkswagen shakedown report

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2 days to the 2011 Dakar Rally

Before the "Dakar" start: News from the Volkswagen Team

The countdown has started: The Volkswagen team's preparations for the almost 9,600 kilometre desert classic in Argentina and Chile are in full swing just two days before the Dakar Rally starts. While the entire crew put the four works entered and prepared Race Touareg 3 through their paces a final time at the roll-out before the "Dakar" starts on New Year's Day, the navigators take a last opportunity to study the maps.

The systems 'go': the four Race Touareg 3 are "Dakar" ready

At the gates of the Argentina capital Buenos Aires the four Race Touareg 3 crews tuned themselves to the "Dakar" in a final test run. Along a near ten kilometre long loop on closed-off minor country roads Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) put the powerful 310 hp cross country rally prototypes to the test for a final time. The four crews each completed about ten trouble free laps. "The roll-out was enormously important to get the feel for the car again just before the 'Dakar' starts," says Mark Miller, who celebrated a podium finish after finishing second and third in 2009 and 2010 respectively with Volkswagen. "We are ready and our Touareg is as well."

Navigation: Depth of information increases, the nights get shorter

The co-drivers are faced with plenty of new things with regard to navigation during the 2011 Dakar Rally: new rules and, compared to previous years, less concrete information beforehand. The closer the Dakar Rally comes, the more the information increases about the forthcoming special stages. "In contrast to previous years the organiser has released hardly any information about the stage lengths," says Lucas Cruz, co-driver with Carlos Sainz, who starts the "Dakar" as defending champion. "We only receive the detailed information on 31 December at technical scrutineering."

The Volkswagen navigators derive the possible route from the exact length of each liaison and special stage as well as information concerning the predicted average speed. For this purpose publically accessible tools like maps or digital computer models such as Google Earth are consulted. "If we know the lengths and average speeds we can find out more precisely what sort of terrain awaits us." Close and detailed inspection of the maps begins with the information being released on 31 December - and the nights for the navigators get longer in view of the workload just immediately before the actual start of the Dakar Rally. "The bulk of the work awaits us, however, in the night before the next stage when we receive the roadbook," says Cruz.

-source: vw

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Series DAKAR