Dakar: Volkswagen stage four report

Second stage win and overall lead for Volkswagen Volkswagen works driver Robby Gordon retakes overall lead: The Californian celebrated his second stage victory of the Dakar Rally on the third special stage in Morocco. As a result, Gordon...

Second stage win and overall lead for Volkswagen

Volkswagen works driver Robby Gordon retakes overall lead: The Californian celebrated his second stage victory of the Dakar Rally on the third special stage in Morocco.

As a result, Gordon retook the overall lead of the world's toughest desert rally in the Race-Touareg one day after his 36th birthday. The US-American 'Dakar' novice had already led the rally during the first two stages on 31st December and 1st January. His team colleagues completed Volkswagen's excellent result, with all four cars finishing in the day's top six: With his third quickest stage time, Bruno Saby improved two positions to third overall. Also, Jutta Kleinschmidt climbed four places up the leader board with the day's fifth fastest time. Juha Kankkunen managed the biggest jump up the field: The Finn leaped to seventh overall from 13th in the Dakar Rally after setting the sixth best time on Monday.

Since the Race-Touareg debut one year ago, Volkswagen has collected a total of nine stage victories in five competitive outings with the diesel four-wheel drive prototype.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)

"I wish to congratulate our drivers and co-drivers. I'm extremely satisfied with the excellent team performance. It is a great way to start the rally on the African continent."

#317 -- Robby Gordon (USA), 1st place (leg) / 1st position overall

"The stage was magic! Whilst approaching the stage start I tested the car a little on gravel. We overtook Giniel de Villiers almost immediately after the stage had started and were able to drive our pace. I'm interested to see how the next stage looks."

#307 -- Bruno Saby (F), 3rd place (leg) / 3rd position overall

"A good day for Volkswagen! We want to stay realistic despite the success to this point. My goal is to maintain contact to the leaders, which we managed again today. The stage ran fantastically well for Michel and I."

#310 -- Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 5th place (leg) / 5th position overall

"We found our rhythm right from the word go today. We were third quickest up to the second time control point. Unfortunately we got caught up behind Nasser Al-Attiyah in the last section. He wouldn't let us past and we lost approximately 80 seconds."

#313 -- Juha Kankkunen (FIN), 6th place (leg) / 7th position overall

"Today's stage reminded a great deal on the World Rally Championship: Hard subsoil, lots of junctions, a fantastic rhythm. I'm satisfied. We overtook a competitor, but I just couldn't get past Gregoire de Mevius."

From the Volkswagen bivouac

- Long days: The first African stage means the start of the "long days" for the team. While the first Service-Touareg arrived in the bivouac around 17:00 P.M. on Sunday in Rabat, the works drivers' four Race-Touareg prototypes rolled in after 22:00 P.M. The support vehicles that sailed with the last ferry arrived at four o'clock in the morning.

- Bivouac life: The Volkswagen works team learned to appreciate Morocco's culture and customs during the first evening meal in the bivouac. All the delicacies -- from olive and tomato salad to meat sauteed in a plum sauce and the noodles -- were relished by every team member whilst sitting in traditional style on carpets.

Three questions for Volkswagen works driver Juha Kankkunen

How do you rate the Dakar Rally following your return?

"From the very beginning the rally has again been great fun. In the meantime there have been many changes. Seventeen years ago there wasn't GPS. The in-car compass is very inaccurate due to the magnet fields in the car. We have to stop occasionally to find our bearings."

How difficult is the change from the more classical rallies to cross country rallies?

"Pacing the competition is basically different. 16 days is a long time, whilst at a World Rally Championship event every second counts. It's a lot of fun living amongst the nature: When I'm hunting or living at my Finnish summer house I often sleep under the stars."

How did you settle in at Volkswagen?

"The team has grown continuously since my first test in July 2004. At that time only two cars were competing, today there are four. I felt immediately at home in this international team and am delighted to be driving for Volkswagen."

-vw-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Juha Kankkunen , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Giniel de Villiers , Gregoire de Mevius , Bruno Saby , Nasser Al-Attiyah , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport