Volkswagen retain third and fifth overall Volkswagen staked their claim for two finishes at the head of the leaderboard three days before the end of the Dakar Rally: Jutta Kleinschmidt and co-driver Fabrizia Pons remain unchallenged in third...
Volkswagen retain third and fifth overall
Volkswagen staked their claim for two finishes at the head of the leaderboard three days before the end of the Dakar Rally: Jutta Kleinschmidt and co-driver Fabrizia Pons remain unchallenged in third place overall in the world's toughest desert rally after the 370 kilometre stage from Bamako to Kayes in Mali.
The speedy female duo completed the second section of the 1487 kilometre long marathon-stage after setting the day's sixth fastest time in the Race-Touareg. Together with Michel Périn, team colleague Bruno Saby defended fifth place overall, which he had taken the previous day, after finishing tenth on the tight, twisty and dusty laterite stage, which ran through partially inhabited areas. The third Race-Touareg, powered by a 260 PS TDI turbo diesel engine as well, scored a good result, too: US-American Dakar debutant Robby Gordon and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz jumped one position in the overall standings to eleventh, despite starting from an unfortunate 47th position and having to overtake 21 cars and numerous motorcycles along the bush tracks in south west Mali.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"The greatest praise must go to the Race-Truck team today, which had worked day and night. The service team had things easier on the marathon-stage, as they didn't have to go to Bamako and could take a well-deserved rest in Kayes. We followed a strategy today to ensure that Jutta and Bruno got through the stage safely. Following his loss of time on Wednesday, Robby was told to push for a good time. As a result he has secured a better starting slot for the next stage."
#310 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 6th place (leg) / 3rd position overall
"Along a tarmac section just before CP1 we were able to overtake Carlos Sousa, I was really happy. Unfortunately a little later the front left tyre failed and he was able to overtake us again. The navigation was relatively simple when compared to the first part of the marathon-stage."
#307 -- Bruno Saby (F), 10th place (leg) / 5th position overall
"Another trouble free stage. We drove the entire day behind Jutta. The laterite tracks were fast and bumpy, and because of the many potholes they were quite dangerous. We are satisfied with tenth position on the stage. Michel Périn and I want to defend fifth place over the course of the final stages."
#317 -- Robby Gordon (USA), 16th place (leg) / 11th position overall
"A gruelling day! Dust, dust and even more dust when overtaking. We couldn't loosen the wheel nuts immediately when we had to change a tyre after damage to the rear right quarter. That's why it's an even better feeling to have improved one place overall."
From the Volkswagen bivouac
- Night shift: While the service team has been able to relax since Wednesday in Kayes, the Race-Truck teams had to put in some long hours on the marathon-stage. After more than twelve hours of uninterrupted driving, the two truck teams helped to change a damaged driveshaft and the rear differential on Jutta Kleinschmidt's car in Bamako, and also prepared the cars of Bruno Saby and Robby Gordon perfectly."
- Relaxation before the final spurt: Because of the regulations governing the marathon-stage, the Volkswagen service team drove already on Wednesday evening to the stage finish in Kayes to prepare for Thursday. There they set-up the Service-Trucks before relaxing a little and got to know local rally rates: A case of beer costs 50 Euro...
Three questions to Eduard Weidl, Technical Director Race-Touareg
How would you assess the performance of the Race-Touareg during the 'Dakar'?
"Up till now all four cars ran perfectly. We only kept to the interval scheduled for component changes. The car is very robust; the occupants were well protected during both rolls, the passenger cells were not damaged. This was of course part of the concept."
Three days to go and there are still three of the four Race-Touareg cars in the race...
"I was a little sad that we lost Juha Kankkunen's car. Because we elected not to repair the car after the roll, we could concentrate more on the other three prototypes. Not only do the drivers get more exhausted towards the end of the rally but also the mechanics."
What was the most positive discovery for you?
"The versatility of the cars was completely positive. We had expected that we would lose more time on the soft sand. More classical rally tracks, which suit us, are the order of the day till the rally ends:"