Dakar: Volkswagen stage 6 report

Mixed feelings at Volkswagen: Saby improves - Kleinschmidt unlucky While Volkswagen works driver Bruno Saby improved to 13th overall after finishing the day in twelfth position on the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally, his team colleague Jutta ...

Mixed feelings at Volkswagen: Saby improves - Kleinschmidt unlucky

While Volkswagen works driver Bruno Saby improved to 13th overall after finishing the day in twelfth position on the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally, his team colleague Jutta Kleinschmidt was forced to accept a bitter setback. At a rather harmless looking river crossing the Race-Touareg of Jutta Kleinschmidt and co-driver Fabrizia Pons sank over one metre in a water pool, whereupon the engine stalled. The four-time Dakar winner Ari Vatanen was struck by the same fate. The Race-Touareg of the eleventh placed ladies duo had to be towed away, in accordance with the regulations, by one of the Race Trucks entered by Volkswagen in the Truck competition. The team, under the direction of Motorsport Director Kris Nissen, can only check if a punctual repair, and therefore the continued participation is possible at the bivouac at the stage finish in Tan-Tan, Morocco.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Jutta was really very unlucky. It would seem that these are the hidden dangers of the Dakar. I'm really very, very sorry for Jutta who has worked so hard for this project. The entire team will do everything within their powers so that Jutta and Fabrizia can continue the rally."

Bruno Saby (#224)
"Today's stage was extremely hard and dusty. The visibility in the swirling dust clouds was very bad because of the permanently gusting wind. The shorter gearbox ratios in the Race-Touareg proved to be a good choice from the off."

Jutta Kleinschmidt (#204)
"We are extremely disappointed, it was just bad luck. Incredibly, at this small river crossing we just simply chose a point with a deep pool that we couldn't see. The water just there was over a metre deep and ran over the bonnet as we drove through. After that the engine stalled. It really would be a great shame if this resulted in us having to retire early from the rally, particularly now when we were really getting to grips with the Race-Touareg."

Two-time defending champion Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan surged to the lead in the 2004 Dakar Rally after winning the sixth stage, a 351 km special from Ouarzazate to Tan-Tan.

Masuoka overtook fellow Mitsubishi driver Stéphane Peterhansel of France who suffered a puncture during the stage on Tuesday. The Japanese driver timed 3 hr 9 min 40 sec to come in 2min 57 sec ahead of South African Giniel De Villiers in a Nissan, with Scotland's 1995 world rally champion Colin McRae third at 5 min 41 sec.

Peterhansel's lead was minimized by a five-minute penalty on Monday when teammate Andrea Mayer pushed his car near the end of the fifth stage and was compounded by a puncture which put him 6 min 40 sec behind the Japanese driver. De Villiers is third overall at 17 min 50 sec.

-vw-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Colin McRae , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Fabrizia Pons , Hiroshi Masuoka , Stéphane Peterhansel , Ari Vatanen , Andrea Mayer , Bruno Saby , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport