Dakar: Volkswagen stage five report

Volkswagen driver Jutta Kleinschmidt third on day Jutta Kleinschmidt fought to take third place in the Volkswagen Race-Touareg on the Dakar Rally's 654 kilometre fifth leg. The Monaco domiciled German achieved her best result to date during...

Volkswagen driver Jutta Kleinschmidt third on day

Jutta Kleinschmidt fought to take third place in the Volkswagen Race-Touareg on the Dakar Rally's 654 kilometre fifth leg.

The Monaco domiciled German achieved her best result to date during the 27th running of the desert classic and jumped to fourth overall. Directly behind the Volkswagen works driver, in fifth position, is team colleague Bruno Saby after five of the 16 legs. Newcomer Robby Gordon, who started the stage between Agadir and Smara as overall leader, fell back to seventh overall on the stony route. The four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen occupies eighth position in another Race-Touareg fifty-nine seconds behind the American. Of the three works teams, Volkswagen is the only one to be starting the most difficult part of the rally in Mauritania with all its vehicles in the top ten. On the agenda on Wednesday is the first real sand-stage, a 492 kilometre long run from Smara to Zouerat.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)

"That was a good, as all four Race-Touareg prototypes performed exceedingly well on a very demanding stage. The rally is very hard to the material and the competition is impossible to call. I'm satisfied with the drivers and team and remain quite confident."

#310 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 3rd place (leg) / 4th position overall

"Third place is my best result to date during this year's rally, it's a good feeling. BFGoodrich have provided us with fantastic tyres: In spite of a slow puncture, which occurred around 90 kilometres into the stage, we managed the 300 kilometres to the finish perfectly."

#307 -- Bruno Saby (F), 7th place (leg) / 5th position overall

"The stage was very stony and incredibly varied. Unfortunately a tyre failure on the right-rear cost us between three and four minutes, the Race-Touareg ran perfectly."

#317 -- Robby Gordon (USA), 9th place (leg) / 7th position overall

"Even if my loss of time would appear to be a knock back, I'm very satisfied. We approached the stage much more conservatively than previously, as I didn't know just exactly how hard I could push the tyres on the rough gravel. We really were a little too careful."

#313 -- Juha Kankkunen (FIN), 8th place (leg) / 8th position overall

"A rear-left tyre failure after 200 kilometres and another on the right-rear after 250 kilometres cost us about seven minutes. The track was very fast and it really was a lot of fun to drive to gauge ourselves in the Race-Touareg against our opponents."

From the Volkswagen bivouac

- Desert Hotel: After the fourth stage the Volkswagen works team stayed the whole night in the bivouac. Camp was set-up at an airfield close to Smara in the Western Sahara. Mechanics, management and the drivers occupy 61 one-man tents and sleep overnight in sleeping bags on inflatable mattresses. The team also has seven larger tents in the luggage -- however the wind is too strong in Smara to put up all the tents.

- Gordon's secret: The American, who has already won two Dakar Rally stages, revealed one of the secrets of his success 'off-road'. "I've been building buggies with my father for years and drive them in the dunes. In fact, we have already rented one car to our competitor Jean-Louis Schlesser."

Three questions to Volkswagen Race-Truck driver Klaus Leihener

What exactly is your job as Volkswagen Race-Truck driver?

"It is bit of a tightrope walk as we are included in the official classification: We have to be quick, to be as close behind the Race-Touareg cars as possible in order to help if necessary. At the same time, we can't however run the risk of dropping out."

With what is a Race-Truck equipped?

"In addition to me as driver, there is a navigator and a mechanic on board. The three of us are able to affect just about any repair on the road. We have a welder and spare parts on board. Our 440 hp truck has a payload of two tonnes. However, our truck is one of the smallest in the Truck Classification. In this particular class there are almost only pure Race-Trucks, which are empty, on top of the leader board."

What is the fascination of the 'Dakar' for you?

"I've been competing in desert rallies since 1989. It's a unique experience every time."

-vw-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Juha Kankkunen , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Bruno Saby , Klaus Leihener , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport