"Dakar" winner de Villiers in the "Green Hell" with Volkswagen Wolfsburg (30 April 2009). A man who loves extremes: For the second time in 2009, Dakar Rally winner Giniel de Villiers is tackling a legend with Volkswagen. After his historic...
"Dakar" winner de Villiers in the "Green Hell" with Volkswagen
Wolfsburg (30 April 2009). A man who loves extremes: For the second time in 2009, Dakar Rally winner Giniel de Villiers is tackling a legend with Volkswagen. After his historic triumph at the world's toughest desert rally in January, which the South African in the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 and his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz won as the first contenders in a diesel-powered vehicle, de Villiers will contest the 24-hour race on the famous Nurburgring-Nordschleife at the end of May. In the Scirocco GT24 he will share the cockpit with his "Dakar" team-mates Carlos Sainz (Spain) and Dieter Depping (Wedemark). Last year, the trio piloted the Scirocco GT24 in its debut race and enabled the one-two class victory in the strong field of vehicles with two litre turbo.
"Giniel de Villiers is truly an all-rounder, who feels at home at desert rallies as much as he does on the circuit," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "As the 'Dakar' winner, he is an excellent ambassador for the Volkswagen brand and for the two motorsport worlds - rally and circuit racing - which Volkswagen combines in its competition program."
Desert and Nordschleife: two motorsport extremes for de Villiers
Two weeks across 9,500 kilometres through Argentina and Chile as well as unpredictable terrain on the one hand, 24 hours day and night around the Nordschleife on the other - for Giniel de Villiers, these two extremes of motorsport are two very special events. "In my opinion, the 'Dakar' and the 24-hour race on the Nordschleife are by far the biggest challenges in international motorsport," says de Villiers. "Both competitions truly are legends and real marathons with a fascinating flair."
Giniel de Villiers is particularly taken with the atmosphere at both of these motorsport classics: "In Argentina and Chile, millions of spectators watched the Dakar Rally, which created an incredibly enthusiastic mood. At the Nurburgring, the situation is similar, albeit in a more compact form," comments the Volkswagen "factory" driver. "Last year, over 200,000 spectators flocked to the 'Ring', this year we expect a similar turnout. Competing in front of such an audience and having the opportunity to be part of this event provides an extra dose of motivation. The many camp fires around the track and all the campsites make the 24-hour race on the Nordschleife highly special, particularly as you drive into the night. And like the 'Dakar', the Nordschleife itself is an opponent to be defeated before you've got the chance of winning anything."
As in desert rallies, the "Dakar" winner's concentration is put to an extreme test at the Nurburgring. "In the desert, you've got to be extremely alert because the landscape and the ground constantly change," Villiers points out. "At the Nurburgring the situation is similar: Although the track itself does not basically change, fog and frequent rain in certain places mean you've always got to be on your guard. With over 200 participants competing in the various classes, overtaking manoeuvres exert constant pressure as well - you've got to be prepared to think for the driver you're lapping as well. Not only in rally but also in circuit racing the 37-year-old driver draws on a wealth of experience. In his native South Africa, de Villiers celebrated five touring car champion's titles before switching to off-road racing.
Reliability is crucial: Race Touareg 2 and Scirocco GT24 on the endurance track
At the Dakar Rally as well as at the 24-hour race on the Nurburgring Giniel de Villiers can trust reliable vehicles. At the desert classic along the pampas, across the Andes and through the Atacama desert the Race Touareg - thanks to the South African and his team-mate Mark Miller (USA) - celebrated a commanding one-two victory. At the 24-hour race, the Scirocco GT24 proved its durability by clinching a one-two class victory in its maiden race in 2008. "Of course a reliable car is extremely important for a racer," says de Villiers. "As far as the work of Volkswagen Motorsport's engineers is concerned, I know that they give me nothing but dependable, competitive material. The fact that two such capable vehicles have been developed in both of these highly different racing categories proves the quality delivered by Volkswagen."
The 24-hour race on the Nurburgring starts on 23 and 24 May 2009. Volkswagen will enter a total of five Scirocco GT24 cars. In addition to three vehicles fitted with two litre gasoline engines, two cars powered by innovative CNG units will be prepared and fielded by the manufacturer.