Volkswagen day twelve notes

Volkswagen goes to Dakar Rally's final spurt with leading trio Wolfsburg (14 January 2009). Impressive spectator enthusiasm and fascinating landscapes that offer extremely tough sporting challenges: Volkswagen goes to the final spurt of the...

Volkswagen goes to Dakar Rally's final spurt with leading trio

Wolfsburg (14 January 2009). Impressive spectator enthusiasm and fascinating landscapes that offer extremely tough sporting challenges: Volkswagen goes to the final spurt of the Dakar Rally featuring the event's last three legs. On the eleventh day of the rally the four Race Touareg vehicles with Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) completed a liaison stage from Copiapo via the Chilenian-Argentine border to Fiambala and back to Argentina. The eleventh special stage was cancelled due to the late ending of the tenth leg the day before as well as an inclement weather forecast, and changed to a so-called liaison stage.

Continuing as the front runners in the overall standings are Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin in the Race Touareg marked as competition vehicle number 301. The Spanish-French duo has so far taken the Race Touareg powered by a 280-hp TDI diesel engine to six victories on ten legs. The tally of two-time world rally champion Sainz and three-time "Dakar" winner Perin reflects eight days on which the pairing led the event.

"Volkswagen can look at an interim result of the Dakar Rally that is positive across the board," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Eight out of ten stage victories show that the Race Touareg is the fastest car in the field. Furthermore, the fact that all four vehicles entered in the event are reaching Fiambala, thus returning to Argentine soil, shows that we've got an extremely reliable car. Now, three more legs are on the agenda. The way the 'Dakar' has gone so far has taught us not to underestimate them. Particularly the twelfth leg on Thursday to La Rioja and the huge white dunes pose a tough challenge that puts man and material to yet another extremely severe test."

A winner already: South American "Dakar" debut thrills the masses

Straight from the start, the Dakar Rally proved to be a crowd puller at its South American debut. More than 500,000 enthusiastic spectators witnessed the starting ceremony in Buenos Aires, over 80.000 of them flocked to the "Dakar Village" for the autograph sessions of the teams, and countless fans have been lining the route through Argentina and Chile on each of the rally days that have taken place so far.

The three-some of Volkswagen, X-raid-BMW and Mitsubishi treated them to a nail-biting fight for the lead, the thrill of which was fuelled by the extreme demands made on man and material. "I expected to see a lot of enthusiasm but this surpassed my wildest expectations. The huge turnout of fans - it's incredible," says Carlos Sainz, who - not least owing to his three world championship wins in Argentina - is being celebrated as a hero in all quarters.

In addition to Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz have - on two occasions so far - entered their names on the list of stage winners. Before the final trilogy of the Dakar Rally the South African-German duo is ranking third in the overall classification. Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford in a further Race Touareg solidified their position as the overall runner-up, 27.31 minutes behind Sainz/Perin. A strong impression as well has been left by the fourth pairing in the cross-country rally prototype from Wolfsburg sporting Red Bull blue: Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk delivered convincing performances of top times too, but were extremely unfortunate on a number of occasions and are now ranking ninth overall, as the best German duo.

Race Touareg proves itself on roughest terrain

Quick gravel stretches, soft sand and huge dune fields, high camel grass and trial-like sections: On the way to Fiambala, the Volkswagen Race Touareg has so far reliably mastered extremely demanding landscapes. At the Dakar Rally all kinds of different terrain are encountered each day, requiring the technicians to achieve the perfect compromise in terms of vehicle set-up and the drivers to swiftly adapt to the changing terrain.

"The frequent changes pose a real challenge to us, the drivers, as well as to the co-drivers. We were not accustomed to them from the previous 'Dakar' in this form," says Giniel de Villiers, and Mark Miller adds, "The landscape is breathtaking, absolutely fantastic. During the first crossing of the Andes we briefly stopped on the liaison leg to enjoy this stunning view."

And the remaining stages will continue to feature variety galore. Myriad forms of dunes including the ominous white dunes on Thursday on the way to La Rioja, followed by huge cactus landscapes on Friday and Saturday, and - through the legendary pampas - back to Buenos Aires where the participants will cross the finish ramp on Sunday (the 18th).

From the Volkswagen bivouac

- Heroes of the marathon leg - Race Truck crew as mechanics: Mission "marathon leg" - at the finish of the eleventh "Dakar" day, in Fiambala, the crews of the two Volkswagen team's two Race Trucks would normally play an especially important part. As registered participants, they, in addition to the drivers and co-drivers of the Race Touareg vehicles themselves, are authorised to service the cross-country rally prototypes. On the evening of the marathon day, merely the change of the air filter and the four wheels was planned, as well as an in-depth inspection of the 280-hp diesel-powered vehicles. After the liaison stage in the direction of Fiambala, the mechanics of the Race Trucks, Arnaud Libois, Dirk van Obbergen, Thorsten Goldberg, Jurgen Damen as well as the two Race Truck drivers, Tom de Leeuw and Francois Verbist, are now in for a less strenuous night - a welcome relief after the strains of the special stages completed so far.

- Refreshment as a reward for success - ice cream for the mechanics in case of stage victory: As many as eight times Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen has treated the Volkswagen mechanics to ice cream at the Dakar Rally - as a special reward for stage wins. On the tenth leg of the off-road classic Nissen would have had to deliver on his promise in any event: He had promised Hummer driver Robby Gordon and his mechanics the same "prize" in case of their stage victory. At the finish, Race Touareg driver Carlos Sainz and Gordon were separated by merely 21 seconds.

- 900 litres of water per day - the supply of the Volkswagen bivouac: High heat in the bivouacs, strenuous physical work for drivers, co-drivers and technical crews: The Volkswagen squad consumes about 250 litres of drinking water per day at the Dakar Rally. In addition, there are the 250 litres used by the team's own kitchen and the 400 litres which the four Race Touareg crews and the 80 team members split between themselves for daily personal hygiene. The only exception: On rest day the four diesel prototypes were each treated to 400 litres of water for extensive washing.

Coming up

Thursday, 15 January: Fiambala (RA) - La Rioja (RA). The twelfth leg features many branch-offs, and thus puts exacting demands on the drivers and co-drivers. Three days before the much-longed-for arrival at the finish the drive across various types of dunes, including the ominous white dunes, is on the agenda. In total, the leg will cover 518 kilometres, 253 of which are timed.

The Dakar Rally on TV

14 January
06:00 - 07:00 hrs RTL Punkt 6
08:30 - 09:15 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
12.00 - 14.00 hrs RTL Punkt 12
12:00 - 12:45 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
19:15 - 19:30 hrs Eurosport Finish live
23:00 - 23:45 hrs Eurosport Highlights live
00:45 - 01:30 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)

15 January
06:00 - 07:00 hrs RTL Punkt 6
08:30 - 09:15 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
12:00 - 12:45 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
12.00 - 14.00 hrs RTL Punkt 12
18.45 - 19.05 hrs RTL RTL aktuell
19:30 - 19:45 hrs Eurosport Finish live
23:00 - 23:45 hrs Eurosport Highlights live
00:00 - 00:30 hrs RTL Nachtjournal
00:45 - 01:30 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)

-credit: vw

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Dieter Depping , Giniel de Villiers , Michel Périn , Thorsten Goldberg , Francois Verbist , Timo Gottschalk , Ralph Pitchford , Kris Nissen , Tom de Leeuw , Dirk van Obbergen , Arnaud Libois , Jurgen Damen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport