Sunday, January 15, 2006

Volkswagen Maintains Second with Giniel de Villiers

Text from Volkswagen Motorsport.
WOLFSBURG, Germany - Nail biting sprint for Dakar Rally finish line: Before the remaining 744 kilometres, Volkswagen maintains second position at the Dakar Rally with duo Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner who lie 22 minutes behind leader Luc Alphand (Mitsubishi).

On the 567 kilometre stage from Labé in Guinea to Tambacounda in Senegal, three Race Touareg prototypes in second, third and fourth positions once again underlined the potential of the Volkswagen prototype with its 275 hp TDI diesel engine. Carlos Sainz was narrowly beaten in second place ahead of Giniel de Villiers and Bruno Saby. Today saw the conclusion of the so-called marathon stage, with severely limited service back-up, run over a two-day period and over a distance of 1,439 kilometres, which all four Race Touareg prototypes still competing survived in perfect condition. The final long stage run over 634 kilometres between Tambacounda and Dakar on Saturday is tackled by the four Volkswagen works drivers Giniel de Villiers, Mark Miller, Bruno Saby and Carlos Sainz from second, fifth, eighth and eleventh places respectively. The traditional ‘showdown' on the shores of Lac Rose follows on Sunday.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Our drivers and co-drivers and our Race Touareg prototypes mastered the difficult marathon stage exceptionally well and cemented their positions for the final sprint for the finish. On today's stage we once again demonstrated just how competitive we are by taking three positions in the top-four.”

#301 – Bruno Saby (F), 4th place (day) / 8th position overall
"Today's stage was run almost completely off the beaten track, which required our utmost concentration. We only completed the last 50 kilometres on something resembling a road and could drive a little quicker.”

#305 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 3rd place (day) / 2nd position overall
"The stage was difficult, and the surface was very slippery in places. However, it was also very picturesque since the mountain tracks took us up to 1,000 metres. One checkpoint that we had to reach was in the middle of a thicket. Respect for Luc Alphand – he drove perfectly.”

#307 – Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place (day) / 11th position overall
"After only 30 kilometres we ran into the dust cloud of somebody in front of us, who we unable to overtake for 70 more kilometres. My racing gear is now red instead of blue from the laterite dust. We had to change the rear right wheel once after a tyre failure.”

#309 – Mark Miller (USA), 12th place (day) / 5th position overall
"We must have damaged the rear axle somewhere in the mountains. From kilometre 146 onwards the car was crabbing lightly. We found a broken toe-link, but could repair everything and made it to the finish without any further problems and stayed in fifth place.”

Three questions to Dirk von Zitzewitz, Mark Miller's co-driver

You've experienced many highs and lows together with your driver Mark Miller during the Dakar Rally. How would you assess your performance up to now?
"The rally isn't over till the chequered flag drops. In Stéphane Peterhansel's case on the marathon stage, we saw just how quickly you can lose the lead. Both Mark and I have experienced incredible highs and lows. Everything ran according to plan at the beginning. However, we were frustrated after rolling twice in Mauretania on the second day, and noticed that any chance of a top-three finish was gone. We were also disappointed on the day after the rest-day. We were simply not good enough and slipped out of contention with the leaders. Since then things have been running extremely well again, we are working our way to the front."

How are you getting on in the cockpit with Mark Miller – you have already driven together in 2002 and 2004 in the Dakar Rally?
"We work perfectly together. Things worked out very well already during the first two events we competed in together; however, we have both learnt a great deal more in many different aspects since then. For example, I'm much calmer now. I have also learnt a huge amount during this Dakar."

The team has changed noticeably since you started alongside Robby Gordon for the Volkswagen team in 2005. How do you judge the development?
"I'm extremely impressed by the team. It really is fantastic to see just how smoothly everything functions. Parts and service are always there where we need them, a huge logistical challenge. The atmosphere is also very good, despite everybody being totally focussed on the job in hand.”

Standings after stage 13, Labé (GN) – Tambacounda (SN); 348/567 km stage 13/total

Pos., Team, Vehicle, Stage 13, Total time
1. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4:30:15 hrs. (1.) 50:56:07 hrs.
2. Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner (RSA/S), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4:31:57 hrs. (3.) + 22:13 min.
3. Nani Roma/Henri Magne (E/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4:42:00 hrs. (5.) + 1:32:31 hrs.
4. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4:47:05 hrs. (7.) + 3:07:55 hrs.
5. Mark Miller/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 5:03:32 hrs. (12.) + 3:33:10 hrs.
6. Jean-L. Schlesser/François Borsotto (F/F), Schlesser-Ford; 4:59:52 hrs. (10.) + 4:14:30 hrs.
7. Carlos Sousa/Jean-Marie Lurquin (P/B), Nissan Pick-up; 4:49:10 hrs. (8.) + 5:24:01 hrs.
8. Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4:40:34 hrs. (4.) + 8:09:47 hrs.
9. Thierry Magnaldi/Arnaud Debron (F/F), Schlesser-Ford; 4:44:43 hrs. (6.) + 8:26:53 hrs.
10. Guerlain Chicherit/Matthieu Baumel (F/F), BMW X3; 5:05:10 hrs. (14.) + 8:40:05 hrs.
11. Carlos Sainz/Andreas Schulz (E/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4:31:05 hrs. (2.) + 9:47:53 hrs.

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