Thursday, January 12, 2006

Volkswagen Moves Up to Second with Giniel de Villiers

Text from Volkswagen Motorsport.
WOLFSBURG, Germany - Volkswagen moved up to second position overall only three stages before the end of this increasingly tense Dakar Rally.

A mere 20 minutes separate works driver Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Tina Thörner in the Race Touareg from new leader Luc Alphand (Mitsubishi). On the 872 kilometre long twelfth stage de Villiers arrived at the finish in third place, while previous leader Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi) lost the lead to Alphand after hitting a tree. Nani Roma leads Peterhansel, who is fourth and now eight minutes in front of fifth placed Mark Miller in another Volkswagen Race Touareg. The day's stage from Bamako in Mali to Labé in Guinea marks the first part of the so-called marathon stage during which only the competing Race-Trucks can carry out the evening service to rally cars – alongside the drivers and co-drivers who must also roll-up their sleeves today.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"What a day! Giniel de Villiers is now second – fantastic. Yesterday fate hit Jutta, today Mitsubishi and Peterhansel – it's a long and extremely tough rally. We still have more than 1,300 kilometres to go. Our drivers looked after their equipment today on the marathon stage and all drove very well.”

#301 – Bruno Saby (F), 4th place (leg) / 8th position overall
"We drove the entire time behind Giniel to help him in an emergency. We only lost him after we had to stop to change a punctured tyre 100 kilometres before the finish. The route was very dusty, twisty and narrow today."

#305 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 3rd place (leg) / 2nd position overall
"We are now second – a fantastic feeling after a stage where it was very easy to make mistakes. The road book was very inaccurate and we were the first car into the stage today after winning yesterday, but everything went well for us."

#307 – Carlos Sainz (E), 9th place (leg) / 11th position overall
"We caught up with Luc Alphand 60 kilometres after the start. We hit a boulder obscured by his dust cloud. We didn't only damage a tyre but also had to clamp a brake pipe. We suffered another two punctures later on.”

#309 – Mark Miller (USA), 5th place (leg) / 5th position overall
"After only 45 kilometres we caught up a Pro-Truck that got stuck in a mud hole during one of the 20 or so water splashes. We had to push him out as he had blocked the track. On top of this we also had to change two tyres today. A very difficult and stop-start day.”


From the Volkswagen bivouac

- Marathon stage:
No regular service is allowed after the Rally Dakar's twelfth stage. At the stage finish in the Guinean town Labé, the Volkswagen works drivers and all other competitors can only call on the help of the Race Trucks. After an accident on the eleventh stage the Race-Truck driven by Klaus Leihener/Thomas Baumann/Thorsten Goldberg was again ready for action on the marathon stage. The robust MAN had only suffered cosmetic damage and arrived at the bivouac in Bamako late on Wednesday evening. The Race-Truck shadowing privateer Stéphane Henrard also transported the tyres for the Volkswagen works team.

- On the way to Dakar: Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons are already on their way to Dakar. The female duo, who retired with damaged suspension on the eleventh stage after colliding with a tree stump, had a Service-Team make a makeshift repair to the Race Touareg 2. On 11 January the German-Italian team drove to Kayes where they spent a night before heading directly to Dakar. They both stay in Dakar and will welcome the team in the Senegalese capital on Saturday.

- Debut in Race Touareg: Stéphane Henrard is twelfth after the twelfth stage on his debut with the privately entered Volkswagen Race Touareg. "I'm impressed by the Race Touareg”, stated the Belgian, overall victor of the 2005 Pharaons Rally with Volkswagen TDI technology. "The Touareg's engine is simply fantastic; it has power when you need it. If you see which strong teams are in front of us, we can be extremely pleased with our position.” Henrard has already helped the Volkswagen works drivers on two occasions: He gave Bruno Saby a few litres of diesel after a leak in the fuel supply line and towed his car away. When the Spaniard Carlos Sainz stopped with an overheating engine immediately after the ninth stage, he towed his Race Touareg along the liaison stage to the team's overnight halt.

Standings after stage 12, Bamako (ML) – Labé (GN); 368/872 km stage 12/total

Pos., Team, Vehicle, Stage 12, Total time
1. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4:22:46 hrs. (1.) 46:25:52 hrs.
2. Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner (RSA/S), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4:26:07 hrs. (3.) + 20:31 min.
3. Nani Roma/Henri Magne (E/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4:30:50 hrs. (6.) + 1:20:46 hrs.
4. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 7:39:00 hrs. (60.) + 2:51:05 hrs.
5. Mark Miller/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4:29:42 hrs. (5.) + 2:59:53 hrs.
6. Jean-L. Schlesser/François Borsotto (F/F), Schlesser-Ford; 4:34:54 hrs. (10.) + 3:44:53 hrs.
7. Carlos Sousa/Jean-Marie Lurquin (P/B), Nissan Pick-up; 4:47:44 hrs. (11.) + 5:05:06 hrs.
8. Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4:27:18 hrs. (4.) + 7:59:28 hrs.
9. Guerlain Chicherit/Matthieu Baumel (F/F), BMW X3; 4:23:42 hrs. (2.) + 8:05:10 hrs.
10. Thierry Magnaldi/Arnaud Debron (F/F), Schlesser-Ford; 4:31:17 hrs. (8.) + 8:12:25 hrs.
11. Carlos Sainz/Andreas Schulz (E/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4:33:34 hrs. (9.) + 9:47:03 hrs.

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