Volkswagen stage six report

Volkswagen in first, second and third place in the "Dakar" Wolfsburg (8 January 2009). Following a turbulent sixth leg, Volkswagen now leads the Dakar Rally with three of its Race Touareg cars: in the overall rankings, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk...

Volkswagen in first, second and third place in the "Dakar"

Wolfsburg (8 January 2009). Following a turbulent sixth leg, Volkswagen now leads the Dakar Rally with three of its Race Touareg cars: in the overall rankings, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) are 7.39 minutes ahead of Carlos Sainz/Michel Perin (E/F) and 17.51 minutes ahead of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA). Volkswagen has already led this year's Dakar Rally, from the second to the fourth leg.

All three Volkswagen drivers have now moved up one place overall after a day which kicked off with an extremely tough and selective 60-kilometre stretch of dunes and concluded with some easier dirt tracks. This is because the leading team of Nasser Al-Attiyah/Tina Thorner (Q/S) in a BMW X3 incurred some technical problems on the way from San Rafael to Mendoza in Argentina and took a short cut, missing several of the waypoints and consequently being excluded. This allowed Volkswagen to achieve a threefold leg victory, with Giniel de Villiers coming in ahead of Mark Miller and Carlos Sainz - yet another superb driving and navigating performance.

The German Volkswagen duo Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D), who came second yesterday, were less lucky. After incurring a technical fault, they were forced to stop and were towed to the bivouac by a Volkswagen race truck. Depping/Gottschalk are now ranked eleventh overall.

This turn of events means that Volkswagen now has a comfortable lead in the first half of the rally, with the three teams' closest challengers, Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz (E/E) in a Mitsubishi, trailing behind the front-runners by 31.18 minutes.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"My congratulations go out to the Volkswagen team today. The outcome of today's leg and the overall rankings, with three Race Touareg cars at the top in both cases, is evidence of the fact that we prepared very well for this tough Dakar Rally. It has everything we had reckoned with, such as complicated navigation, demanding stretches of driving and, above all, plenty of excitement. We can be very happy with this interim result. But we are not forgetting that there are still some tough legs to come, and we now need to remain focused."

#301 - Carlos Sainz (E), 3rd place leg / 2nd place overall
"My mechanics did some great work overnight and you can no longer tell we rolled the vehicle on yesterday's leg. The race Touareg ran like a dream again today. The leg as a whole went very well. The only mishap was getting stuck at the foot of a dune and it took us a couple of minutes to get out of that one. What's really important in this 'Dakar' is the resilience of the materials. And after what happened to us yesterday, I'm happy that we crossed the finishing line today in such a good position. It's proof of how reliable our cars are."

#305 - Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 1st place leg / 1st place overall
"An unbelievably tough leg today. The first third was all about overcoming very high dunes, some of them with very soft sand. The TDI power in our Race Touareg really helped us keep going where others got into difficulties. And we are more than happy with today's result."

#308 - Mark Miller (USA), 2nd place leg / 3rd place overall
"It took me a while to get into the rhythm of things today, but when I overtook a Mitsubishi in the dunes, my instinct was aroused once more. We had a great duel with Robby Gordon in the Hummer along this very difficult stretch. But the most significant piece of news today is that our vehicles are really reliable and the current results are just great."

News from the Volkswagen bivouac

- All you can eat - Volkswagen awarded an unusual sausage licence: Six rubber stamps, seven signatures, and two visits to the bivouac from a sizeable delegation - after several days of negotiations, Argentina's veterinary ministry has granted Volkswagen permission to consume the supplies of frankfurters that it has brought with it. Importing food to Argentina is not usually permitted, but the authorities made an exception for the Volkswagen team - involving an official inspection and all documentation in duplicate. But the technicians, drivers and engineers need to get eating the sausages as soon as possible, as all food has to be used up before the "Dakar" armada crosses the border into Chile on Friday.

- Only on the "Dakar" - from a racetrack to a football stadium: The rally armada experienced not one but two unusual locations to set up camp on the sixth day of the "Dakar". In the morning, the participants set off from the racetrack in San Rafael, where they had used the infield and the asphalt as their overnight service location. Then the crews arrived in the city of Mendoza in the afternoon, which is also the name of the local province where the best wines in South America are said to be grown. And in Mendoza, the teams have set up their service camp by the football stadium in Parque San Martin.

Coming up

Friday, 9 January: Leg 7, Mendoza (RA)-Valparaiso (RCH). The participants can expect some typical "Dakar" diversity on Friday. Sections of driving over scree followed by powdery sand much like the notorious "fesh-fesh" of the Sahara (and known as "guadal" here) are the order of the day. The teams should also be prepared for a long day of racing and after covering 816 kilometres, 419 of which will be against the clock, the first vehicles probably won't make it to the bivouac until 8 p.m. local time. Half way through the rally, Saturday will then be a rest day.

The Dakar Rally on TV

09 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)

10 January
18:45 - 19:05 hrs RTL RTL aktuell
23:00 - 23:30 hrs Eurosport Highlights
01:30 - 02:00 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 , Tina Thorner , Nani Roma , Nasser Al-Attiyah , Michel Périn , Timo Gottschalk , Ralph Pitchford , Lucas Cruz Senra , Kris Nissen
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport