Rally dos Sertos Volkswagen final leg summary

Volkswagen celebrates one-two win with Race Touareg in Brazil Wolfsburg. Commanding one-two win for Volkswagen: At the Rally dos Sertoes the factory duos Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) as well as Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford ...

Volkswagen celebrates one-two win with Race Touareg in Brazil

Wolfsburg. Commanding one-two win for Volkswagen: At the Rally dos Sertoes the factory duos Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) as well as Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) captured first and second place overall. The Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 powered by a 280-hp TDI diesel engine thus managed a successful maiden race in Brazil. On the tenth and last leg from Mossoro to Natal, de Villiers/von Zitzewitz reached the finish on the Atlantic coast as the stage winners yet again, while Miller/Pitchford finished the stage in fourth place. All of the ten possible stage wins at this extremely varied and demanding rally across a total distance of 4,500 kilometres across Brazil thus went to the "Dakar" prototype from Wolfsburg. This overall victory and second- place finish increase the tally of the Race Touareg sporting the distinctive, blue Red Bull livery to nine overall wins and a total of 28 podium places at 23 races since 2004.

For Volkswagen, the Rally dos Sertoes marked another step in its preparation for the 2009 Dakar Rally, which will lead through Argentina and Chile from 03 to 18 January. After the desert classic, the 10-leg rally across Brazil has been the second-longest for the Volkswagen squad, which ventured onto new territory in terms of the geographic location as well as from a sporting perspective. The cross-country rally through Brazil held new types of routes in store for both driver pairings and put drivers and co-drivers to the test with technically demanding terrain and difficult navigation. In addition to fast sections across service roads, slow, trial-like rocky passages and slippery mud, the rally's profile featured extremely deep water passages. The highly demanding routes thus posed a new challenge for Volkswagen and the entire team.

After winning the prologue and clinching seven subsequent stage victories, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz took the overall lead from the outset, with the Volkswagen drivers competing against seasoned local rivals. With three stage wins and consistently high speed, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford constantly maintained contact to their team-mates. However, due to a 48-minute time penalty after a delayed start to the penultimate special stage, they were deprived of the chance to fight a direct duel with them. Nevertheless, the advantage of the factory teams at the finish was significant: In the end, after 4,500 kilometres, overall winners de Villiers/von Zitzewitz were three, and runners-up Miller/Pitchford two hours ahead of the third-placed local Mitsubishi team Reinaldo Varela/Marcos Macedo.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)

"This one-two win is a fantastic result for us. In sport, particularly in cross-country rally racing, it's impossible to calculate successes in advance or to firmly plan them. There are too many crucial factors involved, even if - as was the case with us at the Rally dos Sertoes - you go into the race as clear favourites. The entire squad, from the drivers and co-drivers to the mechanics, did a truly fantastic job. I'm proud of everyone. The Sertoes Rally served as preparation for the 2009 Dakar Rally and we learned a lot here, particularly with regard to the technical demands made on the material by these types of routes. A special thank you from us to Volkswagen do Brasil for their good support."

#302 - Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 1st place (leg) / 1st place overall

"This is a good day for Volkswagen, and I'm very happy about this exploit. We started to this rally as favourites and again proved that the Race Touareg is a winning car. For the whole team, this was truly a challenge because the terrain was different than in Morocco or Mauritania, for example. Very difficult to drive, very difficult to navigate. Ten days with extremely tough legs and without a day of rest for the squad as well as for us drivers, this was an extreme strain. I think we can take a lot of positive things with us from here and have taken another step forwards in our preparations for the Dakar rally in January 2009."

#302 - Dirk von Zitzewitz (D), co-driver

"We went to Brazil without knowing what to expect. 4,500 kilometres over ten legs, these were just statistics for us. From the first day, the rally showed us why it's considered to be extremely tough. The legs really put high demands on us drivers and co-drivers. But we also got something in return: The spectators gave us an extremely warm welcome and the routes led through fantastic landscapes. For Volkswagen, this has been an entirely positive experience."

#303 - Mark Miller (USA), 4th place (leg) / 2nd place overall

"Despite all the strain, the Rallye dos Sertoes will leave pleasant memories with all the team members, myself included! I won three stages for Volkswagen, my first ones since joining the team. How great the team works in difficult situations was demonstrated to me on the penultimate day when my mechanics changed a defective turbocharger on the liaison stage to the start of the special stage in record time, enabling me to continue the race. They deserve part of the credit for the fact that we finished second overall."

#303 - Ralph Pitchford (RSA), co-driver

"I'm very happy that we finished the Sertoes as the overall runner-up. We didn't know a lot about this rally and weren't able to prepare ourselves for the navigation by extensively studying maps as we usually do. Still, we found perfect conditions here. The roadbooks were very good and extremely detailed. On the one hand, this made the job of navigating easier, but on the other it also required full concentration. I'm very satisfied with our result."

-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