Rally dos Sertoes: Volkswagen preview

New terrain Brazil: A step towards the "Dakar" for Volkswagen Wolfsburg (10 June 2008). Volkswagen once again enters uncharted waters in Cross Country Rallying with a brace of Race Touareg 2 in the middle of June: The driver duos of Giniel de ...

New terrain Brazil: A step towards the "Dakar" for Volkswagen

Wolfsburg (10 June 2008). Volkswagen once again enters uncharted waters in Cross Country Rallying with a brace of Race Touareg 2 in the middle of June: The driver duos of Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) start the Rally dos Sertoes on 17 to 28 June in Brazil for the first time. After Volkswagen won the Central Europe Rally in Hungary and Rumania at the end of April, the team's debut in this demanding rally in South America represents another step in preparation for the 2009 Dakar Rally held in Argentina and Chile in January next year.

"The Sertoes Rally is yet another challenge on the way to the Dakar Rally which will run through South America for the first time in January 2009," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "In addition to their specific characteristics we expect the Sertoes Rally stages to be quite similar to the terrain of the future 'Dakar'. The Brazilian terrain is a new test for both the Race Touareg and the drivers and co-drivers."

A genuine acid test: River crossings, top-speed and scree sections

The same is asked of both man and machine during the Rally dos Sertoes: During ten stages in as many days the rally runs over 4,522.5 kilometres from Goiânia in central Brazil to Natal on the Atlantic coast, of these 2,714.5 kilometres are against the clock. Previous editions of this rally were characterised by extremely demanding sections. On the agenda alongside deep river-crossings are dusty sections, rough gravel tracks and high-speed parts.

"The hard scree sections, which partly resemble trials, are particularly tricky," says Volkswagen factory driver Giniel de Villiers. "On top of this comes the fact that the Sertoes Rally will be tremendously varied from the driving aspect thanks to the different demands. These stages remind me of the route followed by the Baja 500 in Mexico last year."

Thanks to innovative TDI Technology Volkswagen set a new record on its debut in the legendary Baja 500 in 2007 by becoming the first ever competitor to cover the 676 kilometres without refuelling.

Logistical challenge: From Brazils heartland to the Atlantic coast

The entry of the German based Volkswagen team in a rally on the other side of the Atlantic requires meticulous preparation. While the two rally cars for Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford are shipped by air-cargo on 6 June, the service vehicles and spare parts containers had already arrived by sea-freight in Brazil. A challenge for the logistic experts: After arriving in Sao Paulo the freight must be transported almost 1,000 kilometres inland to the start in Goiânia. After the rally of more than 4,500 kilometres finishes in Natal the cars and equipment are transported more than 3,000 kilometres back to the port in Sao Paulo for shipping.

Rally dos Sertoes: Experienced opponents and tough competition

The Volkswagen squad, which has celebrated eight wins from 22 starts with the Race Touareg and two FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup championship titles, expects strong local competition and teams with enormous experience of the routes in the 16th running of the Rally dos Sertoes. Fifty-seven competitors have entered the car category. In addition to these, 93 motor bikes, nine quads and nine trucks will also tackle the rally.

"The main task will be to approach the special stages conservatively," says Volkswagen factory driver Mark Miller. "We should maintain a constant pace throughout, and we should in no way whatsoever underestimate the local teams. Also, at the beginning it will be a case of adapting to the terrain and taking as few risks as possible. After all, the rally lasts eleven days - only the Dakar is longer."

-credit: volkswagen-motorsport.com

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About this article
Series Cross-Country Rally
Drivers Mark Miller , Giniel de Villiers , Ralph Pitchford , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport