Volkswagen still leading diesel competitor. With only 274 kilometres against the clock, the 14th special stage of the Rallye TelefÃ³nica Dakar was half as long as yesterday's competitive stage. Nevertheless, nerves were frayed at Volkswagen....
Volkswagen still leading diesel competitor.
With only 274 kilometres against the clock, the 14th special stage of the Rallye Telef?nica Dakar was half as long as yesterday's competitive stage. Nevertheless, nerves were frayed at Volkswagen. Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons confirmed their ninth position overall in the Tarek, but certainly had a fright. After a mere two kilometres into the mountainous stage from Dakhla to Luxor the orange-red buggy lost power after a plug connected to the engine control unit had loosened. The detailed search for the problem proved to be time consuming -- Jutta Kleinschmidt lost a total of 83 minutes to St?phane Henrard, her team colleague. Together with Bobby Willis, his co-driver, the Belgian set the day's eighth fastest time, and further strengthened his grip, as best diesel engine powered competitor, on seventh place overall.
"That was very annoying", commented Jutta Kleinschmidt about her time loss. "Once again we see that nothing is certain until we reach the finish. A big thank you to the Volkswagen race truck team, in particular Franz Echter, Johannes Lehrer and Detlef Ruf. They found the problem. Then our fight back started. I've never driven through such dense clouds of dust." The 2002 Dakar winner's advantage over the Frenchman Luc Alphand, an immediate rival using diesel technology, is only 23 minutes 51 seconds with just three stages to go.
"With St?phane and Bobby's Tarek we continue to set the standard as the competition's best diesel vehicle and also lead the category for two wheel driven designs", explained Rudolf-Helmut Strozyk, director of Volkswagen Racing. "Such a thing, like the connector on Jutta and Fabrizia's Tarek is the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. The loose connection caused the engine to run only on the emergency programme. Obviously, till the Volkswagen race truck which went to Jutta's aid had started, there was a large time loss, which fortunately didn't have any effect on the overall classification even though the advantage over the closet rival has shrunk considerably."