Volkswagen stage 12 report

Volkswagen leads "Dakar" with Giniel de Villiers in front of Mark Miller Wolfsburg (15 January 2009). Volkswagen maintained a one-two lead on what proved to be the Dakar Rally's most turbulent day so far. On the twelfth of 14 legs Giniel de ...

Volkswagen leads "Dakar" with Giniel de Villiers in front of Mark Miller

Wolfsburg (15 January 2009). Volkswagen maintained a one-two lead on what proved to be the Dakar Rally's most turbulent day so far. On the twelfth of 14 legs Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in the Race Touareg took the lead in front of their team-mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA). Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin (E/F), who had been leading the rally ever since the seventh leg, retired after an accident. Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) reached the stage finish in La Rioja in fourth place and thus improved to sixth position in the overall standings.

The 223-kilometre special stage from Fiambala to La Rioja saw not just one but two changes in the lead in the desert classic. Sainz/Perin had an accident after 79 kilometres and the duo was fored to retire due to Michel Perin having suffered a broken shoulder blade. On the special stage and in the virtual interim classification Miller/Pitchford were running in front over long distances and maintained their lead almost up to the final dune belt of the stage. But then de Villiers/von Zitzewitz converted the 2m18s gap into a stage lead of 16m17s, thanks to good navigating. They thus took over first place overall as well and, before the last two legs, are running 2m35s in front of Miller/Pitchford, who are also driving a Race Touareg powered by 280 hp.

After the Spaniards Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz in the field of those chasing the front runners, as the only remaining Mitsubishi duo, encountered technical problems, Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA) in the Hummer are now in third place overall. However, they are lacking as much as 1h18m to the leading Volkswagen.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"The most important news is that the accident of Carlos Sainz and Michel Perin did not result in any severe personal injuries. Both of them are very disappointed that the 'Dakar' is over for them, but at the same time they're relieved that with a shoulder injury for Michel the incident did not result in really serious consequences. We wish Michel a speedy recovery. But - we knew that to win, we'd first have to overcome the 'Dakar' itself. With Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford we've still got two irons in the fire to win the Dakar Rally with the Race Touareg and TDI power."

#301 - Carlos Sainz (E), retired
"Suddenly, a four-metre deep hole appeared in front of us. We fell into it and landed on our roof. A BMW and Nani Roma were able to get around us at the last moment. The BMW team stopped and helped us to put the car back on its wheels. In the meantime an ASO doctor had arrived who briefly checked Michel Perin and barred him from continuing the drive on account of a shoulder injury. The Race Touareg was by and large okay, the engine was running. Of course we were lucky in this situation as well. I'm very disappointed and I'm very sorry for the team that we're out, but I'm hoping that our team will win in the end anyhow."

#301 - Michel Perin (F), co-driver
"About 30 kilometres before our accident we'd lost our way but soon found the right route again. We were heading towards the next waypoint, I counted down the distance - as always - and just as I was saying '20 metres' we dropped into this whole. Even the days before, the roadbook had not been particularly accurate and today we paid the price for it. I broke a shoulder blade in the accident and that ended the rally for me and Carlos. I'm very sorry for the team. But I'm hoping that in the end a 'blue' vehicle will finish in front."

#305 - Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 1st place leg / 1st place overall
"It was an incredibly rough day for us. Although the special stage today was short, it was extremely slow. The organiser selected routes with large stones, deep and super-soft sand. In addition, there were some places left out in the roadbook, which of course made the navigation extremely difficult. But about five kilometres before the finish my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz made up a lot of time for us when he found the quickest way while others were still looking for it."

#307 - Dieter Depping (D), 4th place leg / 6th place overall
"I think today wasn't just 100 per cent 'Dakar', it was more like 120 per cent 'Dakar'. The dunes were incredibly hard to handle, lots of vegetation that made life difficult for us, and we had to cross riverbeds several times. My co-driver Timo Gottschalk had his work cut out for him. Many branch-offs were hard to see and the roadbook led us astray several times today as well. So, today had everything a rally day could offer."

#308 - Mark Miller (USA), 2nd place leg / 2nd place overall
"Today is one of those days where there's a lot to talk about. The special stage has definitely been the most difficult one of this 'Dakar' so far. Particularly in the sand we had to work hard, we got stuck several times and had to dig ourselves out. On several occasions we let some air out of the tyres and filled them up again after the difficult passages. Once we got stuck, and when I left the car I only then realized we'd lost the rear part of the body - I haven't noticed beforehand that we'd lost it at all. We were leading for a long time, but lost time again at the end. The overall gap between me and my team colleague Giniel de Villiers is small now - but the main thing is that a Volkswagen will be in front in the end."

From the Volkswagen bivouac

- Historic mark achieved - Race Touareg with 30th stage victory: Almost unnoticed amidst dramatic sporting events on the twelfth leg, Volkswagen achieved a historic best mark. With the win clinched by Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) today, the Race Touareg celebrated its 30th "Dakar" stage victory in five "Dakar" competitions since its 2004 debut. The South African-German duo now clinched the ninth stage win for the Volkswagen Race Touareg at the current edition of the desert classic. In total, Volkswagen - the winner of the 1980 Dakar Rally - has decided as many as 37 stages of the cross-country competition in its favour. On Thursday, exactly one week ago, Volkswagen again took the lead in the overall standings and has maintained it ever since. On ten of twelve competition days at least one Race Touareg was running in front.

- Expect the unexpected - heavy rain before twelfth "Dakar" leg: It is known as Argentina's hottest region but just before the twelfth leg of the Dakar Rally the section between Fiambala and La Rioja presented itself in a different way. The morning was dominated by perennial rain before La Rioja had sunshine again, with hot temperatures of 37 degrees. But just the evening before temperatures at the bivouac in Fiambala had been up to 48 degrees.

- Almost 30 years with Volkswagen: Service Truck driver Axel Schroder: A real character in the racing community and the heart and soul of the Volkswagen team: Service Truck driver Axel Schroder will celebrate his 30th anniversary with the Volkswagen brand on 26 April. From the assembly line in passenger car production he moved via the research and development department into motorsport. There, Schroder has so far accompanied all "Dakar" editions with the Race Touareg since 2004.

Coming up

Friday, 16 January: La Rioja (RA) - Cordoba (RA). The penultimate leg of the "Dakar" offers the participants cactuses galore on the way from La Rioja to Cordoba. On the 545-kilometre special stage the teams have to avoid contact with the plants, some of which are of mammoth dimensions, in order to avoid damaging the vehicles shortly before the rally's finish. A section of the World Rally Championship's special stage around Cordoba that was featured in the Rally of Argentina will also be part of this leg.

The Dakar Rally on TV

16 January
06:00 - 07:00 hrs RTL Punkt 6
08:30 - 09:15 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
12:00 - 14:00 hrs RTL Punkt 12
18:45 - 19:05 hrs RTL RTL aktuell
19:45 - 20:00 hrs Eurosport Finish live
23:00 - 23:45 hrs Eurosport Highlights live
00:00 - 00:30 hrs RTL Nachtjournal
00:45 - 01:30 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)

17 January
18.45 - 19:05 hrs RTL RTL aktuell
19:45 - 20:00 hrs Eurosport Finish live
23:00 - 23:45 hrs Eurosport Highlights live
01:15 - 02:00 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)

18 January
18:45 - 19:05 hrs RTL RTL aktuell
19:00 - 19:45 hrs Eurosport Dakar Rally - summary live
23:50 - 00:20 hrs RTL Dakar Rally 2009 - Report

20 January
23:30 - 00:15 hrs Eurosport Dakar Rally - summary (repeat)
00:15 - 00:40 hrs n-tv Dakar Rally - Special

21 January
04:40 - 05:15 hrs n-tv Dakar Rally - Special (repeat)
16:15 - 16:30 hrs n-tv Dakar Rally - Special (repeat)

-credit: vw

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Dieter Depping , Giniel de Villiers , Nani Roma , Michel Périn , Timo Gottschalk , Andy Grider , Ralph Pitchford , Kris Nissen , Lucas Cruz
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport