Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dakar Rally Update: Volkswagen 5th overall

Source: Volkswagen Motorsport
Wolfsburg, Germany - Volkswagen managed another top performance on the 14th and penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally: For the ninth time, a Race Touareg clinched a stage victory, for the third consecutive time, and fifth altogether, Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (Spain/France) achieved such a result.

To top it off, Volkswagen claimed a triple exploit on the 576-kilometre stage from Tambacounda to Dakar: Sainz won ahead of his team-mates Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany) and the Race Touareg from Team Lagos, piloted by Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (Portugal/Germany). Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) in another Race Touareg completed the Volkswagen foursome at the front of the field by finishing in sixth place. In addition, Volkswagen on the penultimate day of the 2007 Dakar Rally celebrated the Race Touareg's 50th stage victory.

In the overall classification which, before the 93-kilometre final stage on Sunday, is being led by the French Mitsubishi driver Stéphane Peterhansel, Mark Miller – as the best Volkswagen driver – is ranking in fifth place. Carlos Sousa is seventh, Carlos Sainz ninth and Giniel de Villiers eleventh.

Rally details after the jump.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"On today's leg, the last real special stage on the way to Dakar, I instructed all drivers to go for an all-out attack. It seems to have worked out well because we occupied places one, two three and six. This shows how good the whole team is. Everyone saw that Volkswagen Motorsport has a package that is capable of winning. This is very encouraging for all of us for the upcoming races. Since the 2006 Dakar Rally we solved our tasks and are very good on any type of terrain. Enhancing this total package that is capable of clinching victories yet again is a task for the 2007 season that shouldn't be all too difficult and represents a nice challenge.”

#301 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 2nd place (leg) / 11th place overall
"At the beginning of the stage I attacked. On the first half of the route things were going really well for us and we overtook three competitors. On the twisty trails we lost about three minutes after 160 kilometers due to minor navigation errors. In addition, the motorcycle riders in front of us left a big trail of dust.”

#303 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place (leg) / 9th place overall
"On this difficult stage things went well for us as our stage victory shows. We were the first car out and had no tracks in front of us. Once or twice we hesitated for a short time because of the navigation and looked for the way, but we didn't get lost.”

#305 – Mark Miller (USA), 6th place (leg) / 5th place overall
"Up to CP1 things were going well and we really put the pressure on. After 40 kilometers we overtook Stéphane Peterhansel. Up to that point a place among the top three would have been possible. But then the navigation became difficult. We were the second car out and lost half a minute three or four times, respectively, when we had to orient ourselves. Ralph did a very good job in these difficult conditions. Our teamwork during this rally is great and we got lost on fewer occasions than many of our rivals.”

Snippets from Volkswagen bivouac

- Schnitzel in the cockpit:
"Schnitzel” – that's the lettering on the co-driver's side of the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 driven by Giniel de Villiers. "My foreign colleagues had problems pronouncing my name,” explained co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. "At some point, Schniiietzewitz turned into Schnitzel, which is probably the only German word that Giniel, Carlos and Mark know. Of course the nickname then stuck with me.”

- Wings for life: On the rear fenders of the Race Touareg the Volkswagen factory team promotes "Wings for life”. This is a non-profit foundation established by the former Austrian motocross driver and KTM sports manager Heinz Kinigadner. He was supported in this initiative by Dietrich Mateschitz whose company Red Bull has been a partner of Volkswagen's on the Race Touareg straight from the start. The foundation that was initiated by Kinigadner after a family member suffered a serious accident has the purpose of supporting and promoting innovative, top-caliber research aimed at stimulating the regeneration of the spinal marrow.

Three questions to catering specialist Mireille André

What kind of meals are being served to Volkswagen Motorsport during the Dakar Rally?
"Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served buffet-style by the organizers in the bivouac. I take care of the snacks in between or provide meals when the team works long hours at night and the mechanics cannot go to the bivouac.”

What was the team's favorite food?
"Small turkey salamis from Mecklenburg, for instance, we had 100 kilograms of those with us and they're all gone. Another thing that pleased most of the team members a lot was hot dogs and sand-cake. And coffee galore …”

What type of food is being taken along from Germany and what do you buy while you're on the road?
"Beverages we buy along the way. Almost all the food was taken along from Germany and transported across the entire rally route. Merely in Morocco did we buy apples, bananas and eggs. Later, in Mauritania and Mali, there was only little fresh fruit available on the markets.”

Standings after leg 14, Tambacounda (SN) – Dakar (SN); 225/576 km stage 13/total

Pos. Team Vehicle Stage 14 Total time
1. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 2h29m23s (11th) 45h42m45s
2. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 2h25m24s (7th) + 7m16s
3. Jean-Louis Schlesser/Arnaud Debron (F/F) Schlesser Buggy 2h27m00s (9th) + 1h36m24s
4. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Alain Guehennec (QT/F) BMW X3 2h22m54s (4th) + 2h03m16s
5. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h23m04s (6th) + 2h11m28s
6. Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (J/F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 2h32m25s (13th) + 2h45m31s
7. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h21m47s (3rd) + 5h13m22s
8. Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA) Hummer H3 2h22m56s (5th) + 7h06m51s
9. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h21m02s (1st) + 7h28m53s
10. Stéphane Henrard/Brigitte Becue (B/B) Buggy Volkswagen 2h46m22s (26th) + 8h29m27s
11. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h21m09s (2nd) + 8h47m44s

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