Volkswagen stage 9 report

One-two-three for Volkswagen - third stage win for Al-Attiyah Wolfsburg (11 January 2010). Volkswagen claim first three positions on stage, three "Blues" head overall standings: The TDI diesel powered Race Touareg continued to set the benchmark...

One-two-three for Volkswagen - third stage win for Al-Attiyah

Wolfsburg (11 January 2010). Volkswagen claim first three positions on stage, three "Blues" head overall standings: The TDI diesel powered Race Touareg continued to set the benchmark on the ninth of the 14-day long 2010 Dakar Rally. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) claimed the day's victory on the route between Copiapo and La Serena in Chile ahead of their team mates Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D). Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) recorded the fifth fastest time in another Race Touareg behind the French X-raid driver Guerlain Chicherit in a BMW. Carlos Sainz continues to lead the overall standings from Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mark Miller. Al-Attiyah reduced his deficit to the leader by six minutes to only 8 minutes 36 seconds.

Of particular interest: In the process of taking Volkswagen's fourth stage victory this year Nasser Al-Attiyah's winning margin of 5 minutes 59 seconds represented the largest lead for the winner of a stage during the 2010 Dakar Rally. The rally professional from Qatar achieved this notable performance on the shortest stage so far, which ran, however, through difficult dune fields in the Atacama Desert. The original 354 kilometre long section was reduced by more than half to only 170 kilometres. The organisers postponed the start by 3 hours 45 minutes due to isolated fogbanks.

The ninth "Dakar" day saw the competitors finally leave the Atacama Desert behind them. Beforehand, however, it was a case of overcoming dune belts and deep, soft sand. The key to success was the drivers' ability to read the steeply falling dunes scattered with camel grass vegetation so as not to get bogged down on the opposite side and lose time as a result.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"On a very sandy stage the Race Touareg with TDI Power demonstrated once again what you need to win under the toughest of conditions. The quality of our drivers was obvious again today. Although the stage was very short today, Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Timo Gottschalk opened up a considerable advantage in the dunes. Four Race Touaregs in the first five cars is a strong performance, as is holding the first three positions in the overall standings."

#300 - Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 3rd place day / 7th position overall
"A dune stage from start to finish. I really enjoyed this special stage. Right at the beginning we waited for our team mate Nasser Al-Attiyah so we could help him if required and then we followed him. The navigation today was not without its puzzles - therefore thanks to my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz who did an excellent job."

#303 - Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place day / 1st position overall
"Not a simple stage, as you could lose time very easily. After around 40 or 50 kilometres we had a puncture, which we changed quickly. Afterwards we overtook Stephane Peterhansel in the X-raid BMW who had got bogged down. From then on I was the lead car in the stage together with my co-driver Lucas Cruz - this certainly wasn't an advantage. All in all I'm satisfied with the result particularly as we are still at the front."

#305 - Mark Miller (USA), 5th place day / 3rd position overall
"I'm a little disappointed today, since we had a good pace in the first 80 kilometres. However, we then got lost and lost a lot of time as a consequence. Afterwards I lost contact with my team mates Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz along the route and probably approached the remainder of the stage a little too cautiously. Be that as it may, a completely different terrain with plenty of gravel awaits us tomorrow. This sort of stage suited me last time - I want to make good here the time I've lost."

#306 - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 1st place day / 2nd position overall
"That was my stage. Before the start we decided to attack. Loads of sand, several dune fields, some with camel grass - I was able to make up a lot of time here. Now I trail my team mate Carlos Sainz by a good eight minutes after clawing back six. Because the forthcoming stages should also suit me I hope to be able to be in with a shout of taking overall victory."

Number of the day

The actual distances driven and measured by sensors on the Race Touaregs of the four remaining Volkswagen duos in the rally differ by only 25 kilometres. The calculated actual values of 3,140 km (Sainz), 3,163 km (Al-Attiyah), 3,161 km (Miller) and 3,138 km (de Villiers) deviate by a maximum of only 99 kilometres from the stage theoretical values which represent the route given in the road book. These differences to the measured values arise due to spinning wheels in soft sand or on loose gravel as well as navigational differences.

Three questions to Hans-Joachim Stuck

You accompanied the first-half of the Dakar Rally as Motorsport Representative for the Volkswagen Group. Are you now a "Dakar" fan?
"The Dakar Rally is a fantastic combination of breathtaking landscapes and a bone jarringly tough competition. What a factory team like Volkswagen handles on coordination, this unique team spirit and what the drivers and co-drivers deliver every day over hundreds of kilometres - this incomparable with any other motorsport category. Whoever doesn't become a fan or isn't impressed can't be saved."

What was the most memorable "Dakar" experience?
"There are several. I had the opportunity beforehand to experience a few kilometres as co-driver. I simply didn't expect this level of intensity before. I'm used to quite a lot with cars - this however just blew me away. The drivers need perfect communication with their navigators and immense confidence in the car. What the Race Touareg puts away is incredible. During the 'Dakar' itself I had the opportunity to spectate on a stage and to observe the drivers. I was deeply impressed. Now I've got the itch. I think I'll have to drive such a car myself once ..."

Volkswagen also presents the Amarok during the "Dakar". What did you think of the new Pickup?
"Purely from the optical point of view the Amarok makes quite a statement. It just looks cool. On top of this, the engine concept with TDI technology and the consequential downsizing are a step in the right direction. It's exactly what you need today. I was positively surprised by the overall appearance, the off-road mobility and agility and acceleration. One thing's for sure: The Amarok will be a welcome addition to the Stuck household."

Coming up --

Tuesday, 12 January: 10th leg, La Serena (RCH)-Santiago (RCH). Narrow, passage like mountain tracks dominate the picture of the tenth "Dakar" stage 2010. The fitness of the drivers can be particularly critical on this section: Numerous heavy braking manoeuvres and tight corners require plenty of movement in the cockpit. Also, the drivers must be prepared for permanently changing terrain. Drivers with experience of traditional rallying will be particularly at home on this stage.

-source: vw

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Hans-Joachim Stuck , Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Stéphane Peterhansel , Giniel de Villiers , Nasser Al-Attiyah , Guerlain Chicherit , Timo Gottschalk , Ralph Pitchford , Lucas Cruz Senra , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport