Central Europe: Volkswagen stage one summary

Volkswagen wins first leg of the Central Europe Rally Wolfsburg (20 April 2008). Volkswagen delivers a successful start into the Central Europe Rally: With their Race Touareg, Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin (E/F) prevailed in the first leg of the ...

Volkswagen wins first leg of the Central Europe Rally

Wolfsburg (20 April 2008). Volkswagen delivers a successful start into the Central Europe Rally: With their Race Touareg, Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin (E/F) prevailed in the first leg of the Central Europe Rally, from Budapest (Hungary) to Baia Mare (Romania). On the just 63-kilmometre long special stage that was extremely demanding for both drivers and equipment, nevertheless, the reigning overall FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup winners set the best time, ahead of Robby Gordon (Hummer) and their Volkswagen team-mates Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D). For the Race Touareg, it was the 62nd stage win since its debut appearance, back in 2004.

Following the first leg of the Central Europe Rally - an event the 'Dakar' organisation A.S.O is heralding a new marathon rallying era with - four Race Touareg are holding top-six positions. The customer team Lagos represented by Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D) finished fifth on day one, with works pairing Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) coming sixth. While a multiple somersault made a sudden and early end to the Central Europe Rally appearance of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA).

In the second of the seven legs, held on Monday, a 100-kilometre special stage will be contested on a loop around Baia Mare that must be completed twice.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)

"A good start for Volkswagen into this new rally. Quite obviously, I'm delighted with Carlos Sainz and Michael Perin taking the lead as well as four Race Touaregs finishing among the top six. The team does an excellent job and the cars are running perfectly. Still, the somersault of Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford represents a warning for everybody. On this difficult terrain, the slightest mistake can result in severe consequences. Fortunately, they both survived the incident unharmed but our engineers checked the car and it's just impossible to repair it in time for leg two."

#201 - Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place (leg) / 1st place overall

"A truly demanding special stage. The terrain represented a real challenge as it was extremely undulated and featured a lot of jumps. We didn't take major risks but succeeded in quickly finding a good rhythm, with our Race Touareg. Despite being very short, the special stage was very varied, with changeable terrain - there even were sandy sections. Furthermore, the track was extremely narrow, narrower than we had expected it to be. Altogether, everything went fine for us, not least because of my co-driver, Michel Perin, having done a flawless job."

#203 - Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 3rd place (leg) / 3rd place overall

"To get the right feeling for the terrain, we opted for contesting the first special stage of this rally very carefully. We quickly adapted to the challenge and in the closing stages, we could push a little harder. I'm truly happy with the time being the result of this effort. A good start for Volkswagen."

#209 - Carlos Sousa (P), 5th place (leg) / 5th place overall

"I'm extremely delighted with the result, my co-driver Andy Schulz and the Race Touareg. From my point of view, it was a truly agreeable special stage, just as it was that challenging. It was unexpectedly undulated but contesting it was big fun. Unfortunately, we were hampered by a dirty windscreen, in the opening stages. Consequently, we nearly couldn't see anything, for about ten kilometres. In consideration of this problem, the result is outstanding."

#213 - Dieter Depping (D), 6th place (leg) / 6th place overall

"A good start for both Volkswagen and me and my co-driver Timo. We clocked a really good time. It's true, we experienced an eye-opener - but altogether, we didn't take any unnecessary risks. Now we've got a good feeling for both the Race Touareg and the track - and look forward to day two."

#206 - Mark Miller (USA), DNF

"Unfortunately, our rally was over with just a few kilometres covered. I a sharp right-hander, we suddenly lost control and the car somersaulted several times. Still, in this incident, the Race Touareg again demonstrated to be a reliable and safe car. My co-driver Ralph Pitchford and I survived the incident unharmed and are fine. I'm really sorry for Volkswagen and the mechanics who did a great job preparing the Race Touareg for us."

-credit: volkswagen-motorsport.com

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Dieter Depping , Andreas Schulz , Carlos Sousa , Giniel de Villiers , Michel Périn , Timo Gottschalk , Ralph Pitchford , Kris Nissen , Andy Schulz
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport