Volkswagen welcomes demanding route of 2011 Dakar Rally
The legendary pampas, the Atacama desert and the dizzying altitudes in the Andes: title defender Volkswagen sees itself confronted with an even tougher route of the Dakar Rally from 02 to 15 January 2011. The third edition of the most gruelling challenge in worldwide motorsport to be held in Argentina and Chile will offer the entrants more varied desert sections, quicker gravel stretches and twistier mountain passes than ever before. Volkswagen had decided each of the two past Dakar Rally events in South America in January 2009 and 2010 with the Race Touareg in its favour and is thus the only automobile manufacturer to have won the legendary desert rally with diesel technology. In January 2011 Volkswagen will tackle "mission hat-trick" setting its sights on the big aim of clinching the third consecutive "Dakar" victory. In Paris, the organiser, A.S.O. (Amaury Sport Organisation), has now presented the route that is awaiting title holders Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (2010), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (2009) and company.
"We welcome the new route of which we've now gotten a first foretaste," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "There are two 'Dakar' principles: expect the unexpected and the next one is always the toughest 'Dakar'. In view of even more demanding sand passages in the Atacama desert and a route that leads even farther towards the north into so far unknown regions the A.S.O. as the organiser of the Dakar Rally has more than stuck to its principles in this respect for the 2011 event again. Our biggest rival continues to be the Dakar Rally itself, but we shouldn't underestimate our sporting rivals either."
Chile's vast north and Argentina's legendary pampas as ideal off-road terrain
Far into the sandy depths of the Atacama desert, at high speed through "La Pampa" and all the way up to the borders of Bolivia and Peru: the 2011 "Dakar" route again delivers its typical superlatives. In 2011 the contenders will be in for a new adventure of even more varied desert passages. Besides featuring new classics like the white dunes of Fiambala, the route scheduled before the only rest day will run up to the Peruvian border of Chile to the town of Arica and thus into a totally new type of desert for the first time.
But before, the rally's start in Argentina's metropolis Buenos Aires with built-in goose bump guarantee will be on the agenda. In 2009 and 2010 the ceremonial start marked one of many emotional highlights. The first special stage of the 2011 Dakar Rally will take place on 02 January 2011 between Victoria and Cordoba and feature somewhat well-known terrain for those who contested the event in previous years. Immediately afterwards, though, the "Dakar" will enter new off-road territory.
Through the mountain ranges and plateaus of the Sierras Pampeanas the route will lead via San Miguel de Tucuman to San Salvador de Jujuy - to new stage destinations and high up to the Argentine-Bolivian border. Along the Paso de Jama the rally armada will cross the Andes into Chile. Calama and Iquique which has been known as a "Dakar" component from 2010 - with its breathtaking arrival at the finish - form the final two stations before Arica which marks the northernmost point of all three "Dakars" held in Argentina and Chile so far.
Not until after the only rest day in Arica on 8 January 2011 will the competitive stages in the north of Argentina and Chiles be followed by familiar terrain and previously known towns at the end of the stages: Antofagasta and Copiapo mark the end of the legs in Chile. After the crossing of the San Francisco pass in the Andes back to Argentina Fiambala, San Juan and Cordoba will be further towns at the end of the stages until, ultimately, on 15 January 2011 between Cordoba and Buenos Aires the 2011 "Dakar" winner will be determined and cheered by an emotional crowd on arriving in the metropolis with a population of three million.
"Mission hat-trick": Sainz and company look forward to the new challenge
The route which is more demanding than before in view of the totally new types of terrains it features is welcomed by the current "Dakar" title holder. "Winning the Dakar Rally one day has always been a big dream of mine which came true last January after an extremely tough battle," says Carlos Sainz who together with his Spanish compatriot Lucas Cruz clinched victory in front of his Volkswagen team colleagues Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford with the smallest lead of all time and - together with them - secured a historic one-two-three victory for Volkswagen. "Success always makes even hungrier for success. That's why, in view of the new and promising route, I'm looking forward to returning in January 2011."