17 days to the 2011 Dakar Rally 2011 Dakar Rally: Race Touareg as unique airfreight Volkswagen tackles the Dakar Rally on 01 January 2011 with Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford...
17 days to the 2011 Dakar Rally
2011 Dakar Rally: Race Touareg as unique airfreight
Volkswagen tackles the Dakar Rally on 01 January 2011 with Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D).
It is not only drivers, co-drivers and team personnel that have a flight to South America behind them: The four newly developed Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 also arrived by air in Argentina as part of a logistically complex contingent.
The air journey for the valuable competition cars was also prepared meticulously this year. On December 10 Volkswagen Motorsport employees carefully monitored how three of the four 228 kW (310 hp) desert prototypes were loaded and securely lashed onto special open containers - so-called "flat racks" for the air transport. The fourth Race Touareg started its journey from Hanover one week later. A haulage company transported all four rally vehicles to Amsterdam. "One car left on 12 December, two on 16 December and the last one on 19 December," explains Lutz Meyer, responsible for logistics at Volkswagen Motorsport. To decrease risk Volkswagen distributed the transport on several direct flights to Buenos Aires. "Additionally we'll send a final load of around two tons of airfreight to Argentina on 15 December," says Meyer. The contents of which are the remaining technical equipment but also include marketing and press utensils.
An employee is already awaiting delivery in South America and is in charge of customs clearance. Volkswagen Motorsport then benefits from the company's global presence: The freight is transported directly to the Volkswagen factory in Buenos Aires, where team members receive the opportunity in specific area to make final preparations before the start. All remaining vehicles, meaning the race and service trucks and the Amarok and PanAmericana Multivan chase vehicles, started the sea crossing to South America on December 1. In Le Havre the 550 vehicles of every "Dakar" participant shared the "Grande Brasile". The 180 metre long, 55 metre high and 35 metre wide freight ship crossed the ocean during a three week journey.
Three questions for Lutz Meyer
When things get serious in the Dakar Rally on 01 January 2011 for Volkswagen Motorsport, logistic expert Lutz Meyer has already completed a significant part of his work for the rally: The complex logistical preparation stage for the factory team lies in his hands. In the process it is about much more than just the four Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 which Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) put their trust during the competition.
Mr Meyer, how large was the freight of vehicles and material this year which you had to coordinate for the Dakar Rally?
Lutz Meyer: "In addition to the four Race Touareg and two tonnes of material which were flown to Argentina in December by airfreight, we had already dispatched all the remaining pre-loaded vehicles in advance by ship to South America. This was two Race Trucks, which also contest the rally, four trucks loaded with material for each Race Touareg, three specially equipped lorries - including one with a kitchen and showers, one with an office, one with extra material - a truck that approaches the start and finish of every stage, a truck for communications, a truck to support the A.S.O Amarok fleet, seven Amaroks and a PanAmericana Multivan for communication, two Amaroks for Volkswagen utility vehicles, three Multivans for marketing and nine Multivans serving as team transporter."
How is loading the trucks prioritised?
Lutz Meyer: "The Race Trucks that run on the stage must be light and agile. They are only equipped with material that is absolutely necessary to be able to help the Race Touareg crews occupants when necessary. Four trucks contain the individual material allocated to each Race Touareg. Then come the remaining trucks which are loaded for their unique functions. The Transporter and Amarok fleet serve as transport for the employees and press representatives. Each and every vehicle is loaded in Germany beforehand. Only the driver's and co-driver's luggage is loaded into the trucks in South America."
The team crosses the Andes twice with the entire fleet. Is this a special challenge?
Lutz Meyer: "The whole rally is obviously a challenge and the Andes a particularly special one. The air is thin at heights of 4,000 metres. All containers filled with gas expand. You have to be careful that they don't burst. Humans must also prepare for the high altitude. For our crews we have oxygen masks if required. The latest trucks from our vehicle partner MAN master the high mountains without any adaptation thanks to pressure sensors. Drivers of the older models refrain from going to the limit - otherwise the turbocharger over revs in the thin mountain air."
The "Dakar" logistics of Volkswagen in detail
37.5 cubic metres of cargo space per service truck, the contents printed on a loading list consisting of 60 single-spaced A4 pages, a total of 50 tons of materials "on tour": carefully thought-out organisation supports the complex logistic operations of the Volkswagen squad at the 2011 Dakar Rally. Every spare part, every tool and every consumable has been stowed in the nine service trucks so that it can be used within seconds to perfectly support the workflow of the mechanics. The logistics behind the four Race Touareg 3 vehicles, behind Carlos Sainz, Giniel de Villiers and company is an important factor of success. The Volkswagen service crew is constantly on the road itself during the Dakar Rally: on 15 rally days the 72 team members - from the mechanic and engineer through to the motorsport director - travel the near 7,000 kilometre service route with a total of 20 support vehicles. The "Dakar" convoy only rests on two days. On all others an average route of 530 kilometres plus altitudes of up to 4,748 metres above mean sea level in the Andes are on the daily agenda. Severe strains are part of the day-to-day routines of the "Dakar" service teams supporting the contenders.