Dakar: Volkswagen stage 14 report

Volkswagen retain top position thanks to perfect team work Thanks to perfect team work Volkswagen retained third and fifth overall in the Dakar Rally two days before the finish: Bruno Saby fought his way up to second in the Race-Touareg on the...

Volkswagen retain top position thanks to perfect team work

Thanks to perfect team work Volkswagen retained third and fifth overall in the Dakar Rally two days before the finish: Bruno Saby fought his way up to second in the Race-Touareg on the 518 kilometre stage from Kayes in Mali to Tambacounda in Senegal.

As a result the Frenchman and his co-pilot Michel Périn stay fifth overall. Jutta Kleinschmidt was forced to repair the damaged steering at the 268 kilometre mark. With the help of team colleague Robby Gordon and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, who had started only 14 minutes later, the speedy female team swapped the damaged parts for a complete assembly from the American's Race-Touareg, who then waited for one of Volkswagen's Race-Trucks, competing in the truck category, to arrive. Thanks to this impressive piece of team work resulting in the loss of only two hours, Jutta Kleinschmidt remains third overall with only one 225-kilometre long cross country stage on Saturday remaining. The rally ends on Sunday in Dakar with a 31 kilometre long stage along the beach.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)

"It's completely brilliant how our teams helped each other out! Bruno offered his help, but just as soon as the extent of the damage was discovered he set off again and by finishing second today defended fifth overall. Jutta and Fabrizia remain third after having swapped the steering components in a command performance along with Robby and Dirk. Thanks must go to Robby and Dirk for the fantastic effort who were second at the second check point and therefore selflessly sacrificed a top result."

#310 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 35th place (leg) / 3rd position overall

"A gigantic thank you goes to Robby! He is an incredible mechanic and changed my steering in less than two hours. An unusual problem reared its head just after a water-splash approaching the 230 kilometre mark: The servo assistance failed, and 40 kilometres later the steering stopped working altogether. I'm happy that I'm still third overall. Now I just want to get safely to the finish."

#307 -- Bruno Saby (F), 2nd place (leg) / 5th position overall

"An exciting day! After starting tenth, I drove the first 150 kilometres in Jose Monterde's dust cloud. In the villages we always had to slow down to 50 km/h. I stopped to help Jutta; however we decided that it would be better if Robby helped her. When Carlos Sousa was involved in accident with a motorbike rider we stopped again briefly. Nevertheless, it was enough to finish second in today's quick, picturesque and bumpy stage. As a result we kept fifth position overall."

From the Volkswagen bivouac

- Important visitor: The former Formula 1 driver and 1983 'Dakar' winner Jacky Ickx visited the Volkswagen works team at the stage finish in Kayes. The Belgian, who is holidaying in Africa, made a quick trip to the Dakar Rally to let Volkswagen works driver explain the Race-Touareg technology.

- Healthy squad: All 60 members of the Volkswagen works team are also still in action after 16 rally days. "There were only a few cases of diarrhoea due to the unfamiliar food", explains team doctor Sonja Witten. "Also, a few team members caught a cold just before leaving Hanover and were unable to shake it off."

Three questions to Volkswagen works driver Bruno Saby

You are lying fifth with a couple of days of the 'Dakar' to go. Are you satisfied?

"Very satisfied, because the Volkswagen team has shown here that we are capable of winning not just stages but also that they can take overall victory one day. Now and then I had a huge time deficit, that's why I accepted to stay behind Jutta and help her. At the same time I'm obviously trying to defend my fifth place."

The team has grown since last year -- how good is it?

"I'm surprised about the fantastic atmosphere, as many employees didn't know the 'Dakar' before. It is a difficult rally, not only for the drivers but also for the team as they must drive huge distances. Despite all this, there is a great sense of humour in the team."

What did you miss the most whilst you were in the desert?

"I'm surprised every time just how well a human being can adjust to adverse conditions. The most difficult thing for me is the dust, which really gets under your skin. That's why a shower is most precious for me during the rally. When I get home, I'll treat myself to a large portion of seafood."

-vw-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Jacky Ickx , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Carlos Sousa , Bruno Saby , Michel Périn , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport