Sainz wins stage, Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk target overall victory
Wolfsburg (14 January 2011). The Volkswagen factory drivers also dominated events on the twelfth and penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally: A one-two-three led by Carlos Sainz (E) from Giniel de Villiers (ZA) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) proved impressively the qualities of the Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 and its driving crews on the longest stage. All three also occupy the first three positions in the overall standings: The leader Nasser Al-Attiyah has the best chance of overall victory ahead of de Villiers and Sainz.
"It looks much easier from the outside than it really is. In view of the results you could almost think that only Volkswagen was participating in the 2011 Dakar Rally," stresses Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "There were however, in addition to the four Volkswagens, actually seven BMWs, two Hummers, a Mini and also cars from Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan competing. The dominance can easily be attributed to the best car in the field - the new Volkswagen Race Touareg 3. It was entered by the best team in this sport and driven by the best drivers and co-drivers. They have worked towards achieving this goal for one year. Thanks to all the Volkswagen Motorsport employees, whether they are at home in Germany or on location in South America. Such success would not have been possible without these employees."
Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) secured their sixth stage win on the way from San Juan to Cordoba - the eleventh for Volkswagen in the 2011 "Dakar". Their team mates Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) followed only 2 minutes 43 seconds behind. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) arrived at the finish another 3 minutes 28 seconds behind. The two overall leaders could take a more controlled approach: In the overall standings they have a 48 minute 21 second advantage over de Villiers. Carlos Sainz completes the Volkswagen trio at the head of the rally leader board in third place. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) continue to hold sixth place.
The twelfth of 13 stages was dominated by several lead changes and an extremely demanding route with many changes of direction and crests. Stephane Peterhansel initially controlled the pace in the X-raid-BMW. The Giniel de Villiers assumed the lead which he lost to Carlos Sainz from the middle of the stage. At 555 kilometres in length today's stage was the longest of the entire rally. The route was so soft in place due to the heavy rain that those responsible had to neutralise the stage for the cars between route-kilometres 294 and 341.
On Saturday an 826 kilometre long final stage is on the agenda, whereby the actual stage length is only 181 kilometre. The Volkswagen duo Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk has the best chance of taking their first overall victory in the Dakar Rally.
#300 - Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place leg / 3rd position overall
"Today was all about finding our rhythm again after our problems over the course of the last two days. We had loads of cars to overtake. Luckily the dust wasn't too bad and we encountered a lot of help. We only got stuck a little longer behind one of the X-raid-BMW's. When we had overtaken it we got a puncture and had to pass it again. It's a fantastic thing to have equalled Stephane Peterhansel's tally of 23 'Dakar' stage victories. I have to thank my mechanics who gave me a perfect car."
#302 - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 3rd place leg / 1st position overall
"It was anything but easy to maintain concentration today. It was a long stage during which my thoughts wandered into the future. Nevertheless, we quickly found our rhythm and a good pace, which meant as little risk as possible. Tomorrow there is another near 180 kilometre stage on the agenda. I hope we can enjoy it with our comfortable lead and not get nervous. If we finish it without problems I hope that we'll have plenty of reason to celebrate. Till then we still have to do our jobs."
#304 - Mark Miller (USA), 6th place leg / 6th position overall
"At the beginning of the stage we waited for Carlos as arranged, so we could run behind him. This belongs to our role as team player and we are happy to do it. Unfortunately we got stuck at a stupid place immediately after and lost more time. The stage today was long and hard. I'm now looking forward to the finale tomorrow, which hopefully brings the result Volkswagen deserves. It looks very good for the team, now we just have to bring the baby home. We'll do everything possible to make sure this is the case."
#308 - Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 2nd place leg / 2nd position overall
"The first 220 kilometres just simply refused to end today. To me they seemed incredibly long and hard. There was a lot of mud and sodden tracks, which demanded everything. Today we decided to complete the stage by taking as little risk as possible. We caught up with both our team mate Nasser Al-Attiyah as well as Stephane Peterhansel in the X-raid-BMW and the decided to follow them to the finish. This didn't make the job any easier, but it was the best decision in order to complete the job in hand tomorrow, which is what we had in mind: the one-two-three for Volkswagen. But the 'Dakar' is relentless. We certainly shouldn't underestimate the remaining 180 kilometres. We'll all approach them with respect."
Number of the day
The Race Touareg 3 electrical wiring system is comprised of a total of 2,543 metres of cable - if you placed every single strand lengthwise in a row. This represents a column of almost 600 Race Touareg 3 parked one after the other lengthways.
Did you know that...
... the Rally Dakar fleet had to prepare itself for significantly hotter outside temperatures on its return to Argentina? On the eleventh stage Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz completed the suspension repair on the Race Touareg in 54.9 degrees Celsius. The value measured in the shade in the air filter housing of the 310 hp "Dakar" prototype does not accurately reflect the actual prevailing heat. As there was no shadow to be found far and wide during the successful repair which kept Sainz/Cruz in the race for a podium position.
... the Volkswagen service crew completes around 7,000 kilometres during the "Dakar", 588 of this alone today between San Juan and Cordoba? The employees rely on the energy drink supplied by main sponsor Red Bull on the journeys made by the "Blue Angels" during the day and occasionally during the night. In a study carried out by Utrecht University the drink containing taurine and caffeine was certified to increase concentration and to reduce the danger of falling asleep at the steering wheel when enjoyed on long motorway trips.
... in addition to Red Bull, 450 half-litre bottled drinks are consumed daily just by the mechanics during the service in the Volkswagen bivouac? 250 bottles of still water and 200 bottles of soft drinks keep the fluid intake balanced at temperatures verging on the 40 degree mark. Not included are the drinks consumed on the journey from bivouac to bivouac.
... Volkswagen transports its own carbon workshop from location to location during the Dakar Rally? Mike Zentner is ready every day to repair damaged bodywork components from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic - as it is correctly called. A job in demand: The tough stages on the 2011 "Dakar" with their potholes, steep downhill dune slopes and the vegetation occasionally protruding onto route frequently batters the exterior skin on the four Race Touareg 3 beyond breaking point.
Coming up next...
Saturday, 15 January: The final sprint at the long-awaited "Dakar" finish in Buenos Aires runs similar to a World Rally Championship stage over gravel tracks. The mountain region around Cordoba provides the perfect backdrop for the final showdown. In January 2010 the Volkswagen team mates Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah were separated by only 2 minutes 12 seconds at the finish - the closest "Dakar" finish in history.