Volkswagen drivers' duel keeps "Dakar" result open to the finish Wolfsburg (15 January 2010). Two Volkswagen Race Touareg fighting for victory are keeping the 2010 Dakar Rally exciting and the result open up until the last minute: On the desert...
Volkswagen drivers' duel keeps "Dakar" result open to the finish
Wolfsburg (15 January 2010). Two Volkswagen Race Touareg fighting for victory are keeping the 2010 Dakar Rally exciting and the result open up until the last minute: On the desert classic's thirteenth and penultimate stage Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) took 2 minutes 32 seconds from their team mates Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E). The Spanish duo's lead over their team mates in the overall standings shrunk as a result to only 2 minutes 48 seconds. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) completes the Volkswagen trio at the head of the leader board.
The two leading drivers and co-drivers have kept the Dakar fans on tenterhooks for days: During a remarkable chase Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk reduced their deficit from 10 minutes 6 seconds (stage 10) to 4 minutes 28 seconds the following day (stage 11). The gap then climbed to 5 minutes 20 seconds (stage 12) and following today's stage between San Rafael and Santa Rosa in Argentina, it is only 168 seconds - so, the tension will rise all the way to the finish in Buenos Aires. Victory on today's leg of 725 kilometres went to Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F) in an X-raid BMW ahead of Al-Attiyah. Sainz and Miller were fourth and fifth. Peterhansel in fourth position overall is also the closest challenger to the three leading Race Touareg. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) are a further three positions behind in the fourth Volkswagen Race Touareg within the top seven best teams.
The penultimate "Dakar" day was characterised by two different sections. Around the start location the 368 kilometre long stage provided the rally's final dune sections with soft sand. Fast sections across fields and farm tracks were on the agenda in the final part.
Victory in the world's hardest rally will be decided on Saturday's final 206 kilometre long stage, which leads the teams to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. The victorious crew receive the winners' spoils on Sunday after having been greeted enthusiastically on the drive across the podium.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"That was a nerve racking day: The Dakar Rally was exciting and it remains so thanks to Carlos and Nasser. Tomorrow will reveal which Volkswagen duo wins the rally. Everybody in the team and all the fans can look forward to a thrilling finale."
#300 - Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 6th place day / 7th position overall
"Once again a day of two sides. It started with a dune belt close to San Rafael where there was plenty of soft sand. We overtook two Mitsubishis here, which had started before us. However, we didn't see them - so they must have got lost. My co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz obviously did a fantastic job again. In the second, faster section with a large percentage of full throttle we were caught up in Carlos Sousa's dust cloud with no chance of getting past him."
#303 - Carlos Sainz (E), 4th place day / 1st position overall
"The day started well for us, particularly when you think that we had to open the stage after having won yesterday. In the second, fast part Nasser Al-Attiyah caught us up and took a big risk to overtake us. I didn't particularly like this. The gap between us has shrunk again. So, tomorrow we'll be using the same tactic all the way to the finish as we've used throughout the entire 'Dakar' so far: Attack to the finish."
#305 - Mark Miller (USA), 5th place day / 3rd position overall
"The final dune section of the 'Dakar' gave us plenty of soft sand, but it was very easy to master with the Race Touareg. There followed an extremely fast second part with tracks like motorways. We were running in some dust kicked up by the quads and motorbikes when we hit a stone in the middle of these wide tracks. Then we had to change a tyre which cost us some time."
#306 - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 2nd place day / 2nd position overall
"The first dune section was ours. We made up a lot of time here and were hot on the heels of our team mate Carlos Sainz, who started before us, entering the final section across wide farm tracks. I repeatedly used the Sentinel which is used to warn drivers ahead, however, Carlos didn't make space. Perhaps he didn't hear it - either way we were forced to make a risky overtaking manoeuvre. Anything is possible tomorrow. I'll do all I can all the way to the finish."
Number of the day
The maximum brake pressure generated on stage 13 by the Volkswagen factory driver Mark Miller was 67.9 bar. This equates to the pressure experienced when submerged in 679 metres of water.
News from the Volkswagen bivouac
- Low wear "Dakar": Spare parts logistic with ample stock
The Volkswagen team logistic personnel report a positive balance up to the Dakar Rally's thirteenth stage. 307 of the 450 spare tyres transported for the Race Touareg were used before the final stage on Saturday. As far as the spare parts are concerned the electronic loading lists also report hardly any anomalies. Just a single rear cover was required up to now for Carlos Sainz following his 'meeting' with Robby Gordon (Hummer) on the twelfth stage. On top of this come two windscreens for Mark Miller and Carlos Sainz, which were changed as a precaution after being chipped by stones. Every service truck carries a complete set of bodywork for the rally vehicles.
- Daily tasks: Mechanics' check list is comprised of 463 points
The Volkswagen factory team's daily procedure is strictly organised. Everyone, from driver to co-driver, from engineer to mechanic, has pre-determined tasks to complete daily. Including: The morning check by the factory pairs to ensure the Race Touareg functions correctly, such as system pressure and temperatures read via cockpit displays, or basic things such as the wiper, lights and horn controls. Checks during the liaison stages are also on the drivers and co-drivers daily agenda. The service and maintenance work begins once the cars are delivered to the mechanics. This includes the scheduled inspection of oil and air filters, data recording, seals, fluid levels or engine, brakes and suspension components. In this way a total of 463 points per car are included in the job list for every stage.
Coming up --
Saturday, 16 January: 14th leg, Santa Rosa (RA)-Buenos Aires (RA). Flat out to the finish: The last stage of the 2010 Dakar Rally is dominated by high top speeds. Last year this was the fastest stage with 81 per cent full throttle although driven in the opposite direction. At that time the longest section without "lifting" was measured at almost ten kilometres. Long straights along narrow farm roads take turns with 90 degree corners.