Sunday, January 08, 2006

Volkswagen in Third and Fifth at Half-way Stage

Text from Volkswagen Motorsport.
WOLFSBURG, Germany - The Volkswagen works team defended third and fifth places at the half-way stage during on one of the most bitterly fought Dakar Rally’s very.

Giniel de Villiers improved from fourth to third on the 568 kilometre eighth stage in the Race Touareg 2. Mark Miller set exactly the same time as new leader Stéphane Peterhansel on his way to being second quickest between Atar and Nouakchott. Jutta Kleinschmidt's and Carlos Sainz's day was a series of setbacks: The former third placed driver lost more than one hour and fell back to fifth place, after she got stuck in sand. He Spanish team mate Sainz had a clutch problem at the start of the stage and restarted the stage extremely late. Bruno Saby put in an excellent drive after starting 90th; he overtook 80 competitors on the stage which brought him seventh on the day...

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport-Director)
"We were hit hard today. Although we are still in the leading group with third and fifth positions the gaps have grown significantly. Mark Miller proved that the Race Touareg 2 is also equally competitive on the most difficult of subsoil with second fastest time."

#301 – Bruno Saby (F), 7th place (leg) / 11th position overall
"That was an excellent stage. Despite the number of overtaking manoeuvres we set seventh best time. We had difficulty passing some of the Race-Trucks. We also stopped for Carlos, and another competitor who had rolled.”

#303 – Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 11th place (leg) / 5th position overall
"We ground to a halt on a straight and had to use the sand boards to build some sort of road to get out again, which cost us 47 minutes. This was followed up by another two tyre failures. Fabrizia and I are obviously very disappointed.”

#305 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 6th place (leg) / 3rd position overall
"It's amazing to think that we gained a position, because everything went wrong today: Three tyre failures, bogged down once, then we caught up another car, got lost and to cap it all we stopped to clean grass out of the blocked cooler.”

#309 – Mark Miller (USA), 3rd place (leg) / 8th position overall
"The second best time is incredible, particularly as we drove seven kilometres in the wrong direction together with Giniel! At the start we saw Carlos stationary in a river bed, but the ground was too soft to help him. Later Jutta waved us by, as she had only just freed herself. The final kilometres were great fun.”

Three questions to race engineer René Verbist

What happens on the rest day during the Dakar Rally on 8 January in Nouakchott?
"It will be a busy working weekend for the Service Team, since we use the rest day to prepare the five Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 prototypes for the second-half of the rally. After all, we are still faced with seven tough stages totalling more than 4095 kilometres.”

Which jobs are actually carried out?
"The gearboxes, differentials, brake discs and steering racks are changed as scheduled. The parts required are already lying ready for use in the Service Trucks. In addition, we also check the chassis, engine and clutch, but also remove the seats to check the safety belts and to clean the rally car thoroughly from top to bottom inside and out, because loads of sand and dust will have collected in every corner."

How long will this work take?
"We start immediately after the eighth stage has finished on Saturday evening and need almost certainly every minute till Sunday night. Although a gearbox change can be completed in less than one hour under normal rallying conditions we take the time on the rest day to inspect every component closely and schedule around three hours for this. Actually only the drivers have time to relax on the rest day."

Standings after stage 8, Atar (MR) – Nouakchott (MR); 508/568 km stage 8/total

Pos., Team, Vehicle, Stage 8, Total time
1. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 5:07:48 hrs. (2.); 22:32.41 hrs.
2. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 5:11:32 hrs. (5.) + 32 sec.
3. Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner (RSA/S), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 5:27:12 hrs. (6.) + 26.16 min.
4. Nani Roma/Henri Magne (E/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 5:08:51 hrs. (4.) + 43.35 min.
5. Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons (D/I), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 6:11:28 hrs. (11.) + 1:06.26 hrs.
6. Thierry Magnaldi/Arnaud Debron (F/F), Schlesser-Ford; 5:00:56 hrs. (1.) + 1:33.40 hrs.
7. Jean-L. Schlesser/François Borsotto (F/F), Schlesser-Ford; 5:47:20 hrs. (8.) + 1:45.21 hrs.
8. Mark Miller/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 5:07:48 hrs. (3.) + 2:12.13 hrs.
9. Carlos Sousa/Jean-Marie Lurquin (P/B), Nissan Pick-up; 5:35:34 hrs. (8.) + 3:10.12 hrs.
10. Matthias Kahle/Thomas Schünemann (D/D), Buggy Honda; 7:33:24 hrs. (27.) + 6:03.22 hrs.
11. Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 5:32:05 hrs. (7.) + 7:16.17 hrs.


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