Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Three Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 Prototypes in Leading Quintet

Text from Volkswagen Motorsport.
WOLFSBURG, Germany - Volkswagen holds third, fourth and fifth positions overall less than a minute behind the leader with its works drivers Bruno Saby, Carlos Sainz and Jutta Kleinschmidt after the third Dakar Rally stage.

On the first African stage in Morocco, which measured 386 kilometres (total leg: 672 kilometres), the head of the field has bunched much closer together: The first three Volkswagen drivers are separated by a mere three seconds. Behind Mark Miller, who steered his Race Touareg 2 to seventh place overall today, is Giniel de Villiers in twelfth position only 4 minutes 33 seconds behind the leader.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"All five Race Touareg 2 prototypes ran flawless on the first African stage. Our best three cars all lie within three seconds of one another at the top of the field. The two fastest drivers in the field – Nani Roma and Hiroshi Masuoka – are only separated by six seconds. It's incredibly close after more than 500 special stage kilometres.”

#301 – Bruno Saby (F), 8th place (leg) / 3rd position overall
"It goes without saying that I'm pleased to have improved by one position to third place. We lost time 40 kilometres before the finish because of tyre failure on the rear right. We had to overtake a lot of motorbikes on the edge of the track, where the danger of damaging a tyre increases.”

#303 – Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 4th place (leg) / 5th position overall
"I've no complaints about fourth fastest time of the day, especially when you think just how difficult the navigation was and particularly as we also had to drive 60 kilometres in the dust cloud of the car in front. It was possible, but very risky to overtake.”

#305 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 9th place (leg) / 12th position overall
"Everything started very well, but we made a navigational error after 140 kilometres and had to turn around, which Jean-Louis Schlesser saw. He got in front of us, set the day's fastest time and we ate his dust for 170 kilometres.”

#307 – Carlos Sainz (E), 12th place (leg) / 4th position overall
"Today we noticed just what it means to be the first car into the stage. There were no dust trails from a leading car to follow, so we had to plot our route alone. Unfortunately we also got lost. The absence of the GPS data is very apparent.”

#309 – Mark Miller (USA), 7th place (leg) / 7th position overall
"My co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz coped well with the difficult navigation. The pace at the front is incredible. Whether or not all the people in front will reach the finish is another question. Unfortunately I had headache at the finish, but it will definitely be gone by tomorrow.”

Three questions to Volkswagen Logistic Manager Paco Crous

You organise the Volkswagen rally armada which includes 78 people and 27 vehicles. Were you concerned at any point?

"The most critical point of this Dakar Rally so far, was to catch the ferry in Malaga on 1 January at 23.30 hours in the evening. The rally is definitely over for any competition vehicle that misses the ferry. That's why the team was under pressure on the second day, however, everything went well for us. Every vehicle was punctually at the port.”

What is the logistical challenge of Dakar Rally?
"Before the start we have to solve an enormous puzzle over a long period of time, the complete preparation. On the other hand, during the two European stages you have to finish several tasks in a very short space of time. After the ferry crossing to Africa my function gets easier – the bulk of the work is already sorted out.”

How can a bystander imagine the logistical preparations?
"During the Dakar Rally it is almost impossible to buy anything. That's why it's so important not to forget anything and to have a plentiful supply of parts, equipment and consumables in stock under way. It's particularly difficult to judge just how many consumable items you need on the road. My favourite example is the noodle soup: If every team member eats one soup per day, we have to bring 1,300 soups to Africa. However, if everybody goes up for a second helping then you need double the quantity. It's just as difficult to order water and diesel in advance – you need an enormous amount of experience, you frequently have to go by your feelings. Or improvise later.”

Standings after stage 3, Nador (MA) – Er Rachidia (MA); 314/672 km special stage/total

Pos., Team, Vehicle, Stage 3, Total time
1. Nani Roma/Henri Magne (E/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, 2:52:32 hrs. (6.); 5:27.34 hrs.
2. Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (J/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 2:51:17 hrs. (2.) + 6 sec.
3. Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2:53:18 hrs. (8.) + 54 sec.
4. Carlos Sainz/Andreas Schulz (E/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2:57:42 hrs. (12.) + 56 sec.
5. Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons (D/I), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2:51:54 hrs. (4.) + 57 sec.
6. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 2:51:35 hrs. (3.) + 1.36 min.
7. Mark Miller/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2:53:12 hrs. (7.) + 3.18 min.
8. Robby Gordon/Darren Skilton (USA/USA), Hummer H3; 2:52:28 hrs. (5.) + 4.11 min.
9. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 2:57:26 hrs. (11.) + 4.25 min.
10. Jean-L. Schlesser/François Borsotto (F/F), Schlesser-Ford; 2:50:58 hrs. (1.) + 4.26 min.
12. Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner (RSA/S), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2:53:26 hrs. (9.) + 4.33 min.

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