Monday, December 19, 2005

Heading for Dakar with 27 Vehicles and 78 People

Text and photo from Volkswagen Motorsports.
WOLFSBURG, Germany - Rally feeling in Wolfsburg: after a public event in the “auto city”, the Volkswagen works team, with 27 vehicles and 78 people, set course for the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, the starting place of the Dakar Rally (31 December to 15 January).

To celebrate its farewell, the team, which had claimed third place in this desert classic in 2005, had set up a bivouac. The Volkswagen works drivers, Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), Mark Miller (USA), Bruno Saby (F), Carlos Sainz (E) and Giniel de Villiers (RSA), together with their co-drivers, Fabrizia Pons (I), Dirk von Zitzewitz (D), Michel Périn (F), Andy Schulz (D) and Tina Thörner (S), first answered the questions of numerous media representatives and then gave autographs to lots of motorsport fans having travelled to Wolfsburg for the farewell.

"Dakar" impressions were not only rendered by the Race Touareg 2 cars, the race trucks, the service Touareg, the service T5 busses and the service trucks being showcased but by fascinating images of marathon rally sport projected on a 27-square meter video screen. In the meantime, the impressive convoy comprising five Volkswagen Race Touareg cars and 22 support and service vehicles was preparing for its departure, which started with a "motorcade” through Wolfsburg.

"The departure for Lisbon, the starting place of the rally where the Technical and Administrative Scrutineering will be held from 28 to 30 December, marks the completion of the 11-month preparation phase for the Dakar Rally," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "We are well prepared and everyone in the team wants to win. Now we just need that ‘famous bit of racing look'."

The first station of the Volkswagen works team is Spain where the squad will be performing a final roll-out with the 275-hp prototypes. "From Madrid the team will be travelling to Lisbon where all vehicles will be parked in the Volkswagen plant over Christmas. Then the team members will be returning to Germany to celebrate Christmas with their families. In time for the start to the rally, the entire team will be in Lisbon, the rally's starting place," explains Kris Nissen.

Extensive preparations for the famous desert marathon
Since the 2005 Dakar Rallye, in which Volkswagen works drivers Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons, by finishing third overall, claimed the first podium position of a diesel-powered SUV in the 27-year history of the "Dakar, the Volkswagen Race Touareg has been subjected to consistent further development. Apart from an intensive testing programme, the "Dakar” preparations also incorporated experience gained in the FIA Marathon Rally World Cup in which Bruno Saby claimed the title early by clinching three victories and Volkswagen Motorsport won the team classification.

In a parallel project the team was working on the logistical preparation for the 9043-kilometre desert marathon. 27 vehicles and 78 team members are part of the Volkswagen works team during the 2006 Dakar Rally. 15 tough competition days will subject "men and material” to the maximum.

"A motorsport competition of this scale requires intensive preparation," explains logistics expert Paco Crous. "Altogether, we are transporting 25 tons of spare parts and equipment from Germany to the starting location, Portugal, and from there during the rally's 15 competition days via Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Guinea to Senegal. Included are 400 pre-assembled wheels and tyres, spare parts and tools as well as twelve tents and work rooms for the team management, drivers, co-drivers and engineers as well as – for example - 2000 cans of soup as snacks, 78 one-man tents, 1560 t-shirts and numerous pallets of Red Bull."

To handle this project, the Volkswagen works team relies on service trucks, two race trucks registered for the rally as "quick helpers” on the various legs as well as ten specially prepared Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI cars and two Volkswagen T5 busses to carry the team members and their luggage from one stage finish to the next during desert classic.

"The regulations prohibit the additional supply of spare parts or personnel during the rally. That's why we need to be prepared for any contingency,” says Kris Nissen. "Still, the ‘Dakar' can be expected to hold several surprises in store for us again this year. If that's the case, we simply need to improvise. Yet this is part of the many thrills and attractions of the Dakar Rally which we are prepared to handle with a high level of motivation."


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