5 days until the 2010 Dakar Rally
Operation title defence -- Volkswagen targets "Dakar" victory
Wolfsburg (28 December 2009). The greatest adventure motorsport has to offer -- the biggest challenge a manufacturer can confront: Volkswagen starts the 2010 Dakar Rally with the ambitious target of bringing the coveted winner's trophy back to Wolfsburg for a second time. Following the historical victory in January 2009 with the Race Touareg 2, the first in the rally's history for a diesel powered automobile, the German automobile manufacturer once again tackles the challenges posed by the toughest terrain, unrelenting climate and strong competition. Volkswagen fields five of the powerful 300 hp "Dakar" prototypes in the 32nd running of the desert classic and second through Argentina and Chile. When Carlos Sainz, Giniel de Villiers and co roll across the start ramp surrounded by hoards of fans on 1 January 2010 in Buenos Aires they will find themselves in a new role. Till the finish staged 15 days later at the same place they are the prey for the first time.
"The 'Dakar' one-two in 2009 was the realisation of great dream for Volkswagen. However, this is already history. We now have a new goal for which we have prepared even more meticulously than ever before: 'Dakar' win number two," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "We made the already reliable Race Touareg even more robust and in doing so further improved its performance. In Argentina and Chile we face nothing less than the toughest Dakar Rally ever. However, we can say that we are perfectly prepared for this."
Development of winning package: Race Touareg even better and more reliable
"Climbing into the Race Touareg is like coming home for all of us," says Volkswagen factory driver Giniel de Villiers, who starts as defending champion together with his North German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. "We know that we probably have the strongest and most reliable off-road vehicle on our side, and even more so because it was improved still further for the forthcoming 'Dakar' we feel 100 per cent comfortable in the cockpit." Like his team mates, the South African benefits as a result of the remodelled turbo-charger and improved turbo intercooling. The Volkswagen engineers increased the power output of the 2.5 litre TDI engine to 300 hp. The technicians also improved the Race Touareg's brake cooling and the reliability in the gearbox area.
Furthermore, during the 2010 Dakar Rally a new type of tyre will be used that Volkswagen developed in cooperation with partner BFGoodrich. The basic tyre "All Terrain" excels through its improved grip level on loose gravel and through greater durability. This tyre type is also used by rival teams such as the X-raid BMW team.
A strong quintet: The Volkswagen driver and co-driver combinations
Innumerable titles in various categories unite the sporting greats from cross country and classic rallying within the Volkswagen driver squad for the Dakar Rally. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) and Mauricio Neves/Clecio Maestrelli (BR/BR) start with the five Race Touareg entered and prepared by the factory. "Volkswagen has a very strong team," says a convinced Carlos Sainz who led the "Dakar" last year for eight days and celebrated six stage victories from a possible thirteen. "Each one of them has the potential to take overall victory. Tactics are the key. It's so important to stay patient. During the Dakar Rally the unexpected can happen at any time, which is why alongside calculated risk a little bit of luck is required."
Sainz and his co-driver and countryman Lucas Cruz expect the toughest competition from the Volkswagen camp in the form of the first and second placed drivers in last year's "Dakar" and the team newcomers. Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz won the desert classic in 2009, from twelve starts for Volkswagen they are credited with a total of eight podium finishes including five victories. Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford, second in the 2009 "Dakar", are proven off-road experts and genuine all-rounders. The newcomers, the experienced rally driver Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar who starts with German co-driver Timo Gottschalk, as well as Brazilian duo Mauricio Neves and Clecio Maestrelli strengthen the Volkswagen factor team as fourth and fifth pairings.
More desert, more heat, more challenges: The 2010 "Dakar"
The route of the legendary desert rally promises to be the toughest "Dakar" ever: Twice across the Andes with altitudes reaching 4,726 metres above sea level, fast gravel sections in the notorious Pampa as well as the demands made of man and machine on four stages through the unforgiving Atacama Desert are the catchwords of the 32nd running of the off-road classic. "The Dakar Rally in South America is something very special," says Volkswagen factory driver Mark Miller. "In contrast to the years in Africa there is something of every type of terrain every day. Gravel, sand, trial-like sections - this demands all-round abilities and favours no specific type of driver. I think that it is exactly here where my strengths lie."
"Dakar" ready: Volkswagen factors drivers fit for two weeks of desert torture
Every day up to eight hours in the cockpit, extreme heat and, in addition, intense physical effort - the Dakar Rally always brings driver and co-driver to their physical limits. "Peak physical fitness is a crucial factor during the Dakar Rally," says Volkswagen factory driver Nasser Al-Attiyah. "Only competitors who maintain concentration permanently under the most torturous of conditions are also capable of taking overall victory. Thanks to my good physical training I've never felt so well prepared for the task ahead."
A comprehensive fitness programme helped the Volkswagen factory drivers prepare for the 2010 "Dakar". Every driver and co-driver started their personal work-out with a joint high-altitude programme. In Arosa, Switzerland climbing and mountain bike tours were on the agenda in order to achieve with the subsequent intensive programme.
Rapid assistance: The Volkswagen team's complex logistics
A crucial factor during the Dakar Rally are the complex logistics. Eighty-five team members and 23 service vehicles support the five factory driver duos in the Race Touaregs throughout all 14 stages and also on the rest day. During the entire rally the squad undertakes the evening service in order to send the "Dakar" prototypes perfectly prepared every morning into the next stage. The Volkswagen team members have to complete a marathon themselves in the process. Every day - apart from the rest day - the bivouac is erected at a different place. A huge challenge for the logistic team, because the service trucks assigned to each one of the five Race Touaregs and the remaining service vehicles must arrive before the Race Touaregs. "For me the 'Dakar' is the second rally I contest with the Volkswagen factory team," says Brazilian Mauricio Neves. "It's simply unbelievable just how professional it functions. The guys perform miracles during such an event. They are also real 'Dakar' heroes."