Portugal: Volkswagen preview

Dress rehearsal for Dakar Rally: Volkswagen competes in Portugal Wolfsburg (03 September 2008). Volkswagen will meet Mitsubishi and X-raid BMW in Portugal for a final matching of strengths prior to the Dakar Rally. At the second round of the...

Dress rehearsal for Dakar Rally: Volkswagen competes in Portugal

Wolfsburg (03 September 2008). Volkswagen will meet Mitsubishi and X-raid BMW in Portugal for a final matching of strengths prior to the Dakar Rally. At the second round of the Dakar Series, which will start in Lisbon on 10 September and will end in Portimão on 14 September, the German automobile manufacturer will field three Race Touareg 2 vehicles. The four-wheel drive prototypes powered by 280-hp TDI diesel engines will be driven by Carlos Sainz (E) with co-driver Michel Perin (F), Giniel de Villiers (RSA) with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) as well as Dieter Depping (D) with compatriot Timo Gottschalk in the co-driver's seat.

The cross-country rally across an almost 1,600-kilometre distance represents the final direct comparison with rivals - and thus a performance assessment - before the famous Dakar Rally starts to its maiden round in Argentina and Chile on 03 January. The first competition staged as part of the new Dakar Series through Hungary and Romania at the end of April ended in a Volkswagen triumph achieved by last year's FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup winners Carlos Sainz and Michel Perin. Seven of seven possible stage victories went to the Race Touareg in April. In June, at the Rallye dos Sertões in Brazil - at that time with Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz - Volkswagen clinched another win. Hence the Race Touareg's tally in 23 events since 2004 reflects a total of nine victories and 28 podium positions.

"Even the first rally of the Dakar Series in April required strong nerves," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Every stage decision and the fight for the overall lead were decided among powerful rivals, who sometimes finished within merely a few seconds of each other. For us, it was a valuable success at the maiden event of this promising series, and we'll leave no stone unturned to decide the second round in Portugal in our favour as well. As always, we meticulously prepared ourselves for this task, for example by running in Brazil and, most recently, by extensive testing in Morocco. All this is part of our preparation for the 'Dakar' in January, which - with its new terrain - will be a true challenge for all of us."

Carlos Sainz expects close fight about just a few seconds

The route of the Dakar Series' second rally leads from Portugal's capital Lisbon via Castelo Branco, Benavente and Alcochete to Portimão. A total of 1,583 kilometres, 829 of them covering special stages, are on the agenda of the teams - in cross-country rally sport such distances tend to be a seen as more of a sprint. "We expect a close fight about just a few seconds," says two-time Rally World Champion Carlos Sainz. "Every time you make a driving mistake or are not fully focused this can cost you valuable time. The rally's programme through Portugal tends to resemble a classic sprint more than a cross-country rally. Actually, this should suit my driving style."

For Volkswagen, the start at Lisbon marks as much as the sixth cross-country rally event in which the brand competes on Portuguese soil - twice at past "Dakar" rallies. In 2005 the factory team contested the Baja Portalegre and celebrated as many as two podium positions at the Race Touareg 2's debut; in 2006 and 2007 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz as well as Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin each clinched one victory at the Rally Transiberico.

Navigator and scout: Co-drivers have to give clear instructions

For the co-drivers, the second rally of the Dakar Series poses a challenge as well. "In Portugal finding the right way won't be the only crucial aspect," says Giniel de Villiers. "Instead, it will be important to glean as much information as possible about the track characteristics from the road book and to give those instructions to the drivers. Of course that's a question of experience but also of meticulous preparation. I know that - with Dirk von Zitzewitz - I've got a first-class co-driver at my side in this respect. After all, he spends many hours working on the road book every night and individually prepares the notes for the next leg. His preparation significantly lays the groundwork for our joint results."

Debut: Depping/Gottschalk compete in Portugal for the first time

Dieter Depping relies on optimum preparation on the part of his co-driver and on his own driving skills. Unlike their team-mates Sainz/Perin and de Villiers/von Zitzewitz, the Volkswagen factory driver and his co-driver Timo Gottschalk contest their first event in Portugal. They experienced their rally debut in the Race Touareg 2 at the Central Europe Rally in April, which they finished with a strong third place, and thus on the podium, straight away.

"Every cross-country rally poses a new challenge each day. Although Timo and I will compete with the Race Touareg in Portugal for the first time, the character of a spring rally should suit us well also," says Depping. "It will be an extremely tough rally at which small factors will be crucial. Finishing among the top three would be a dream. The tests in Morocco were certainly very positive. We worked out new setup versions for the upcoming 'Dakar', which should benefit us in Portugal as well. The team worked hard - everyone's hot to go into the race now. After all, this is the dress rehearsal for the actual 'Dakar', not only for the drivers and co-drivers but the entire team, particularly the mechanics and engineers."

Sporting mecca on the Algarve coast: "Dakar" aces meet sailing elite

Motorsport meets sailing: In mid-September Portimão, a picturesque coastal town on the Algarve coast, turns into a sporting mecca. Immediately after the arrival of the "Dakar" rally squad at the finish, the sailing pros from the "Audi MedCup" will be setting sail, including top sailors like Jochen Schumann (D), Russel Coutts (NZ), Dean Barker (NZ) or Paul Cayard (USA).

Dakar Series - Portugal: TV schedule (German time) Tuesday, 09 September 2008 18.15 EuroSport, Dakar Series, News 23.00 EuroSport, Dakar Series, Inside (rep. 01.15*) 00.00* EuroSport, Dakar Series, Highlights (Wdh. 08.30*)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008 18.15 EuroSport, Dakar Series, News 23.00 EuroSport, Dakar Series, Inside (rep. 01.15*) 00.00* EuroSport, Dakar Series, Highlights (rep. 01.15*)

Thursday, 11 September 2008 18.15 EuroSport, Dakar Series, News 22.45 EuroSport, Dakar Series, Inside (rep. 08.45*) 00.30* EuroSport, Dakar Series, Highlights (rep. 08.30*)

Friday, 12 September 2008 18.30 EuroSport, Dakar Series, News 22.00 EuroSport, Dakar Series, Inside (rep. 10.45*) 00.30* EuroSport, Dakar Series, Highlights (rep. 00.45*)

Saturday, 13 September 2008 18.45 EuroSport, Dakar Series, News 22.15 EuroSport, Dakar Series, Inside (rep. 00.45*) 23.00 EuroSport, Dakar Series, Highlights (rep. 01.15*)

Sunday, 14 September 2008 16.45 EuroSport, Dakar Series, News 22.30 EuroSport, Dakar Series, Inside (rep. 01.15*) 01.15* EuroSport, Dakar Series, Inside (rep. 08.30*)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008 16.30 - 17.00 n-tv, Reportage

Wednesday, 17 September 2008 19.30 - 20.00 n-tv, Reportage (rep.)

Thursday, 18 September 2008 00.40 - 01.10 n-tv, Reportage (rep.)

*next day

-credit: vw

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Dieter Depping , Giniel de Villiers , Michel Périn , Timo Gottschalk , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport