Volkswagen stage five report

Double leg victory for Volkswagen -- de Villiers now ranked second Wolfsburg (7 January 2009). A double success for Volkswagen: Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) won the fifth leg of the Dakar Rally from Nequen to San Rafael, ahead of...

Double leg victory for Volkswagen -- de Villiers now ranked second

Wolfsburg (7 January 2009). A double success for Volkswagen: Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) won the fifth leg of the Dakar Rally from Nequen to San Rafael, ahead of their teammates Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D). South African de Villiers has therefore improved his overall ranking in this legendary cross-country rally by one place and is now ranked second overall, 2.24 minutes behind the new rally leaders Nasser Al-Attiyah/Tina Thorner (Q/S). He is now also the new leading Volkswagen driver in the field.

Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) were at the front of the pack for several hundred kilometres of today's leg. The route, which ranged in altitude from 400 metres to 2,300 metres above sea level, featured lots of alternating between clearly visible tracks and long sections of off-road driving, as well as an approximately 20-kilometre stretch of demanding dunes to be negotiated towards the end. The German pair eventually came second, securing their best result so far on this cross-country rallying classic.

Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) also had reason to be pleased, coming in sixth on today's turbulent 506-kilometre-long special stage and therefore supplanting Mitsubishi driver Joan "Nani" Roma (E) to take fourth place overall. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin (E/F) suffered a setback: after leading the rally for three days, they finished today's leg in ninth place in spite of a rollover shortly before the finishing line, and were 15.42 minutes behind the day's winners. The two-time rally world champion has therefore dropped to third place in the overall rankings and trails the front runners by 6.33 minutes.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Today was really quite eventful and ultimately turned out well for Volkswagen. The good news to balance out some bad news is that Carlos Sainz and Michel Perin suffered a rollover, but were unscathed and were able to get the vehicle back on its wheels quickly. The Race Touareg is a robust vehicle and the pair were able to soldier on to the finishing line without having lost too much time. We now have a long night ahead of us, fixing the Race Touareg up in preparation for tomorrow, but we still have all the trump cards in our hand. I'm delighted with the performances of Giniel de Villiers and Dieter Depping in their respective Race Touareg, as it demonstrates that we are more than able to compete, even in the harshest of conditions."

#301 - Carlos Sainz (E), 9th place leg / 3rd place overall
"The leg started well for us today. But unfortunately, we hit a rock badly around half way along the special stage, and that knocked our power steering out. We had to drive without it for 200 kilometres to the dune section of the leg. The lack of power steering meant we had to take a different line of approach - and that's when we rolled. The mechanics unfortunately now have a lot of work to do. But we are only trailing by just over six minutes, and we know that anything can happen still."

#305 - Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 1st place leg / 2nd place overall
"A successful day, all in all, which could have been even better. We took things easy at first, planning to attack more and more towards the end. This strategy paid off, but we did unfortunately damage a rim when we hit a rock that was hidden in the sand, and that cost us a bit of time. We're very happy to have won our first leg - especially as it was the most difficult leg of the 'Dakar' so far."

#307 - Dieter Depping (D), 2nd place leg / 9th place overall
"A crazy day, with pretty much all the possible conditions that make the 'Dakar' what it is. There were very fast stretches and there were high dunes, the likes of which I have never negotiated before. We weren't too sure whether we were taking the right line on the dunes - but we obviously did, because we ended up in second place. And we're more than happy with that."

#308 - Mark Miller (USA), 6th place leg / 4th place overall
"We had a few mishaps today. Things were going fairly smoothly until we caught up with Luc Alphand. We used our Sentinel, but he wouldn't let us pass. Then we experienced a flat tyre, which also involved damage to a rim, so we lost more than the usual two minutes because the wheel was stuck. But in spite of all this, we can be very happy with our result today."

News from the Volkswagen bivouac

- "Magic potion" for the Volkswagen drivers - a source of energy on the open road: It's hotter than in Africa on this year's Dakar Rally through Argentina and Chile, and these climatic conditions contribute to making it the toughest "Dakar" ever. Including the liaisons, the drivers and co-pilots in particular can spend up to ten hours behind the wheel of their cross-country rallying prototypes. And with such a high rate of perspiration in these conditions, the participants not only need to be at the peak of physical fitness, but also need to compensate for this loss of fluids sufficiently: a drink additive was therefore developed at the Institute of Sports Nutrition in Bad Nauheim for the Volkswagen drivers, providing them with the necessary electrolytes, vitamins and trace elements while they are driving. Each day, Carlos Sainz and the other drivers need around six litres of the drink, which is brought down to a temperature of around ten to 15 degrees Celsius before each leg starts.

- 2,200 sets of three meals a day - the "Dakar" catering figures: There are some 2,200 people travelling around with the "Dakar" bivouac, which pitches up at a new location virtually every day. Around the clock, various meals are made available to the rally participants, the organisers, media reps and sponsors in the central catering area. It takes ten trucks simply to transport the approximately 1.5 tonnes of food around Argentina and Chile. The meals are cooked by 20 chefs, and the entire catering team totals 80. There are also plenty of liquids to be had, and every day 12,000 half-litre bottles of soft drinks are consumed.

Coming up

Thursday, 8 January: Leg 6, San Rafael (RA)-Mendoza (RA). The sixth leg of the 2009 Dakar Rally is characterised by lots of possible route choices. The drivers and their co-pilots will first encounter a 60-kilometre-long stretch of dunes on their way to Mendoza. The second part of the day's journey is then seemingly easier, but is tricky all the same - a wide ford will require all of the participants' attention if they want to avoid taking an unexpected dip. The participants will clock up a total of 625 kilometres on this stage, 395 of which are against the clock.

The Dakar Rally on TV

8 January
05:30 - 09:00 hrs ARD ARD-Morgenmagazin
06:00 - 07:00 hrs RTL Punkt 6
08:30 - 09:15 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
10:45 - 11:30 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
18:45 - 19:05 hrs RTL RTL aktuell
19:15 - 19:30 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)

9 January
05:30 - 09:00 hrs ARD ARD-Morgenmagazin
06:00 - 07:00 hrs RTL Punkt 6
08:30 - 09:15 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
10:45 - 11:30 hrs Eurosport Highlights (repeat)
18:45 - 19:05 hrs RTL RTL aktuell
19:15 - 19:30 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 Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Luc Alphand , Dieter Depping , Giniel de Villiers , Tina Thorner , Nasser Al-Attiyah , Michel Périn , Timo Gottschalk , Ralph Pitchford , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport