Two Volkswagen Race-Touareg prototypes are in the top-five four days before the end of the Dakar Rally. Yesterday's winner Jutta Kleinschmidt and co-driver Fabrizia Pons finished the twelfth stage, at 586 kilometres the desert rally's ...
Two Volkswagen Race-Touareg prototypes are in the top-five four days before the end of the Dakar Rally.
Yesterday's winner Jutta Kleinschmidt and co-driver Fabrizia Pons finished the twelfth stage, at 586 kilometres the desert rally's second-longest, after seven and a half hours behind the wheel -- excluding the 233 kilometre liaison sections -- in sixth position and have now held third place overall for eight days. Two positions higher up the finishing order on the cross-boarder stage from Kiffa in Mauritania to Bamako in Mali were Bruno Saby and co-driver Michel Périn who brought the powerful 260 PS Race-Touareg home in fourth place. As a result the two Frenchmen dislodged the Mitsubishi driver Nani Roma from fifth place overall. The American Robby Gordon, who had been running comfortably in eleventh with his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, lost around two and a half hours in the third Volkswagen Race-Touareg due to damper damage sustained approaching the second time check point. The service ban in Parc fermé, originally scheduled at the marathon-bivouac on Wednesday evening, has been lifted. The so-called T5-chase teams have already driven to the next stage finish area in Kayes, and only the Race-Truck squads can help. Volkswagen competes with two Race-Trucks each loaded with two tonnes of spare parts.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"It's good that we have retained third place overall and that Bruno, now in fifth place, has crept up the leader board even though we had hoped for a better result today. We now require a good team performance together with the occupants of the Race-Trucks, because we must prepare the cars perfectly for the second part of the marathon-stage."
#310 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 6th place (leg) / 3rd position overall
"The navigation was the most difficult element today. At the start we got lost together with a bunch of other car, we found the track again later. I reduced my pace 150 kilometres before the finish after we had a driveshaft failure at the rear right corner."
#307 -- Bruno Saby (F), 4th place (leg) / 5th position overall
"The day was uneventful. Michel mastered the extremely difficult navigation perfectly. That's why we are so pleased about the reward for our efforts, which is an improvement by one position in the overall standings."
From the Volkswagen bivouac
- Civilisation: A part of the Volkswagen works team returned to civilisation in Bamako. Feverish activity reigns in the capital city of Mali instead of the previous desert atmosphere -- the bivouac set up camp on the perimeter of a regularly used airfield. However, since the Service-Team is already in Kayes only the drivers of the Race-Touareg prototypes, the Race-Trucks and also Motorsport Director Kris Nissen will savour the night in Bamako.
- Homeward bound: The two Finnish Volkswagen works drivers, Juha Kankkunen and Juha Repo, arrived home in Helsinki on Wednesday afternoon at three o'clock after their retirement from the Dakar Rally. The damaged Race-Touareg was driven to Nouakchott where it will then be transported in a truck to Dakar. From there it will be flown back to Germany with the other Race-Touareg prototypes after the rally has finished. The two drivers took a scheduled flight from the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.
Three questions to Team Manager Peter Utoft
How does your summary read after twelve days of the 'Dakar'?
"The team function very well, the jobs flow as expected. The team spirit is even better than last year. I'm more than satisfied."
What are the Team Manager's tasks in the desert?
"I coordinate the teams' plans for every single day; I plan who drives when and where, and which team member does which particular job. I also control the departure times. Among other things I also organised Juha Kankkunen's and Juha Repo's return journey and the transport of the fourth Race-Touareg."
What was the biggest surprise this rally had in store for you?
"I'm positively surprised just how well things are going for us. Also Robby Gordon's performance and his unexpected lead at the beginning is a great success."