Monday, October 17, 2005

World Cup Winner Volkswagen with Four Race Touareg in Portugal

Text from Volkswagen AG.
Cross Country Rallying

Wolfsburg, 17 October 2005 - Triple debut at Volkswagen: The new Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 makes its competition debut at the Rally Baja Portalegre (21 to 23 October) in Portugal.

In addition, the newly signed works drivers Carlos Sainz/Andy Schulz (Spain/Germany) and Mark Miller (USA) compete in their first event. Dirk von Zitzewitz (D), who drove for Volkswagen at the Dakar Rally in January, will navigate for the American. At the Baja Portalegre Volkswagen will start with four vehicles, three of them the new Volkswagen Race Touareg 2. Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (both French), who won the Cross Country Rally World Cup for Volkswagen early, will compete with the new design just as German-Italian duo Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons and Carlos Sainz/Andy Schulz will.

"With the appearance of four vehicles at the Baja Portalegre we want to sign-off the most successful year in Volkswagen's motorsport history”, explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Afterwards, the entire team will concentrate one-hundred percent on preparations for the 2006 Dakar Rally. Due to this reason we decided to drop the UAE Desert Challenge that we'd originally planned to contest.”

The final event of the 2005 season serves as preparation for Dakar Rally

Carlos Sainz, the most successful World Rally Championship driver with 26 victories, makes his cross country rally debut at the Baja Portalegre. "I can hardly wait to drive my first cross country rally”, explains the Spaniard. "I will however approach this rally sensibly, because for my co-driver and I the main aim is to be properly prepared for the Dakar Rally. Our tests went very well, but we are still in the learn phase.” Although Sainz does not know the Baja Portalegre, Portugal is however familiar terrain for the two-time Rally World Champion: In 1987 he celebrated his debut in the World Rally Championship at the Portuguese Rally Portugal, and won there in 1991 and 1995. "It's good for me that I can compete in my first Cross Country Rally event in Portugal, because the gravel tracks used in the Baja Portalegre are more similar to a classic rally than a desert rally.”

Volkswagen works driver Jutta Kleinschmidt brings valuable experience with her after finishing second at the Baja Portugal in 2001, a former round of the World Cup. "The Baja Portalegre tracks are certainly different to those that we drove on in the World Cup. The very tight tracks through the region's olive groves resemble a classic rally stage”, explains the German. "That's why navigation plays a somewhat minor role there, since arrows warn of direction changes. You could probably drive this event alone, which I already have done in the past. We are looking forward to preparing ourselves for the Dakar Rally at this competition, particularly as the first two stages of the 2006 Dakar Rally are supposed to run through Portugal.” The German's goal: "The competition is tough in Portugal; I would be satisfied with a podium finish. My insider's tip for a win is my team mate Carlos Sainz.” The two further developed Mitsubishi driven by Luc Alphand (France) and Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) are among the strong competition.

Pastures new for World Cup winner Bruno Saby

”I've never driven in Portugal before”, explains Bruno Saby. The Frenchman, who won the Cross Country Rally World Cup early at the Rally d'Orient in July, is highly motivated. "Because the Baja Portalegre is very short with just a prologue and two stages when compared to the rest of the events, you have to attack from the very off. However, it is not just a question of scoring a good result but also about the best possible preparation for the 2006 Dakar Rally. We've had some very encouraging tests with the new car, and when compared to its predecessor the engine, visibility and drivability are much better. Now I'm intrigued as to just where we stand with the new Race Touareg 2 compared to the competition.”

The event for Mark Miller and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, in the old Race Touareg model, is part of a learn phase. "I'm competing in my first off-road rally for Volkswagen and I'll drive for the first time in Portugal. That's why we aren't putting ourselves under any unnecessary pressure. We want to collect as much experience as possible”, explains the American. "Our target is to finish well in the 2006 'Dakar'. I'm really enjoying working together with Dirk von Zitzewitz and things are going very well.”

"The Rally Portalegre is not only good preparation and a great opportunity for the drivers to perfect things before the ‘Dakar'”, adds Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "For the team it is also all about preparing itself for the 16-day cross country classic through Africa. That's why we've brought a larger team than usual to the event. Because of the short service times, the engineers and mechanics can also practice working under pressure a final time and prepare themselves for 'Dakar' conditions.”

The Baja Portalegre starts on Friday 21 October with a seven kilometre long super special stage in Portuguese Nerpor (Portalegre). On the agenda on Saturday are two stages totalling 390 kilometres. The event ends on Sunday, 23 October after a final loop over 95 kilometres.

Schedule and entry list available at the organiser's website: www.clubeaventura.pt

Further information: www.volkswagen-motorsport.info

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