Volkswagen stage 12 report

Two times three: Volkswagen trio leads stage and overall standings Wolfsburg (14 January 2009). Exciting team internal duel for overall lead: Volkswagen provided an impressive example of the power and performance of its TDI technology on the ...

Two times three: Volkswagen trio leads stage and overall standings

Wolfsburg (14 January 2009). Exciting team internal duel for overall lead: Volkswagen provided an impressive example of the power and performance of its TDI technology on the twelfth and longest Dakar Rally stage: Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) as well as Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) dominated the two-part twelfth stage, with a total of 476 kilometres run against the clock, from their team mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA). All three Race Touareg were more than ten minutes faster than their closest rivals in the process and continue to hold a commanding lead in the overall standings.

The order in the two classifications is identical: The Volkswagen factory drivers Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) celebrated their second stage win, the sixth for a Race Touareg this year. Towards the middle of the stage from San Juan to San Rafael the two Spaniards were about four minutes faster along the hard and stony subsoil than their team mates Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D). However, on the second sandier section consisting of many crests and jumps, Al-Attiyah reduced the gap to 52 seconds by the finish. In the overall standings the Qatari now lies 5 minutes 20 seconds behind Sainz. Miller/Pitchford (USA/ZA) completed the extremely fast starting stage 4 minutes 22 second behind in third place. He now trails the leader in the overall standings by 28 minutes 12 second in third place.

At 476 kilometres the twelfth stage contained the longest section run against the clock in the rally. However, 130 kilometres of the route were neutralised as planned. The reason: To bypass a nature reserve via a tarmac road. An ad-hoc action by the organisers confirmed just how great the locals' enthusiasm is for the rally: In the afternoon such a large hoard of fans from nearby Mendoza stormed to the finish that the organisers had to move the finish 6,000 metres to the 470th route kilometre in order to sufficiently enlarge the spectator zones.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Fabulous - the fight for the lead is still exciting after about 7,500 kilometres. Carlos and Lucas made up a lot of time in the first section, then Nasser and Timo fought back again. We'll probably have to wait to Buenos Aires on Saturday to know just how this fight will end. However, I'm quite hopeful that the Dakar Rally winner will once again sit in a Volkswagen Race Touareg."

#300 - Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 9th place day / 7th position overall
"At 800 kilometres an extremely long and hard 'Dakar' day, on which I waited twelve minutes at the start for our team mate. At the moment this is our role which we are more than happy to fill. Afterwards we followed Carlos' dust at a respectable difference. However, I misjudged a Fesh-Fesh passage and got bogged down. We should have driven through with more speed. Nevertheless: This stage was varied and fantastic to drive."

#303 - Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place day / 1st position overall
"The first part of the stage ran without any problems whatsoever. In the second part I quickly caught up Robby Gordon who also let me past. However, after I'd overtaken him I probably wasn't fast enough for him. Anyway he nudged me twice on the rear. I let him past again and spent the rest of the stage in his dust cloud. All in all on this two-part route a second stage victory was the reward. We were able to slightly increase the lead as a result. What more could you wish for?"

#305 - Mark Miller (USA), 3rd place day / 3rd position overall
"An incredible day. Very long, very hard for the material. In the first part it was all hard, stony tracks and I thought that we had a found a good pace here as we were able to catch our team mate Nasser Al-Attiyah. Up until I heard from Carlos who had taken a lot of time off us. The second part was very hard for the suspension because of the sandy and bumpy sections. Today we can genuinely say that the Race Touareg gives as good as it gets."

#306 - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 2nd place day / 2nd position overall
"In the first part I didn't feel completely comfortable with my set-up. It was easy to make mistakes here and damage the material, which is why I played safe. In the sand the reverse was the case: Our set-up and the choice of tyre pressures were perfect. As a result, I could make up some of the time I had lost in the morning. It's still exciting. However, to be honest a change in fortunes to my benefit is only really possible tomorrow in the dunes."

Number of the day

In the build-up to and during the 2010 Dakar Rally Volkswagen Motorsport has sent to date 231,516 emails including this press release. This includes the daily report and also the preliminary reports.

Three question to Volkswagen race truck driver Francois Verbist

You are living the dream of many racing drivers: To drive the "Dakar". With, however, a completely different goal - what's it like to drive the race truck for a factory team like Volkswagen?
"To be perfectly honest I'm absolutely delighted to be able to do the job. Our task is to make the finish every day and if the worst comes to the worst to be there when a Race Touareg needs help. The incident involving Giniel de Villiers on the third stage when we were able to help him with an electrical problem showed just how important it can be. Now he still has a good chance of grabbing a good result for Volkswagen. However the job is varied. The 'Dakar' throws up a new challenge every day, you have to conquer new terrain every day. This makes the job even more interesting."

In your homeland Belgium you were already a champion in a one-make touring car series. Doesn't a real racer like you get itchy feet and want to attack during the "Dakar"?
"No, because in touring car sprint races I can give my best and also win, I don't have the urge to attack during the 'Dakar'. The job is like it is: To reach the finish as safely as possible, which is why we agreed that our 6x6 and 4x4 race trucks should always drive through the stages together. In this way we save lots of time since we can tow one another out if either of the trucks should get stuck in the sand. I think that our overall positions 13 and 14 demonstrate that 'safe' is also a good 'Dakar' tactic."

Which was the most exciting stage up to now in the race truck?
"Definitely the seventh from Iquique to Antofagasta. There were extremely high dunes with very soft sand here. In other words a genuine desert stage, which is already difficult enough to master with full-blooded race trucks like the Kamaz. To complete the mission - to see the stage finish - was a really tough task here. Particularly when you think that each truck is carrying almost 1.5 tonnes of spare parts and equipment on board for emergency purposes."

Coming up --

Friday, 15 January: 13th leg, San Rafael (RA)-Santa Rosa (RA). Day 13 also presents the "Dakar" heroes with plenty of kilometres to be completed. A total of 725, which includes 368 against the clock, are on the agenda between San Rafael and Santa Rosa. The flatter route profile and the expanse of the legendary Pampa dominate the day's picture. As a result, the pace increases and with it the risk of failing with the finish practically in sight - more can be lost that won here.

-source: vw

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Giniel de Villiers , Nasser Al-Attiyah , Francois Verbist , Timo Gottschalk , Ralph Pitchford , Kris Nissen , Lucas Cruz
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport