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Dakar 2007: Sainz claims eighth stage victory for Volkswagen.

Another stage victory for Volkswagen in the Dakar Rally: After yesterday’s exploit Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (Spain/France) also won the 13th of 15 legs of the desert classic, a 458-kilometre section from Kayes in Mali to Tambacounda in Senegal. For Sainz, it marked as much as his fourth stage victory, for Volkswagen the eighth in the 29th Dakar Rally. The Spanish-French driver pairing in the Race Touareg was 26 seconds quicker than the French Mitsubishi driver Stéphane Peterhansel, who leads in the overall classification.

Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) in another Race Touareg set the day's third-best time with a 2.18-minute gap on the quick and dusty laterite tracks, defending their place as Volkswagen's best team in the field in fifth position overall. Two positions behind them is the Portuguese-German duo of Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz in a Race Touareg from Team Lagos who achieved the fourth-best time of the day.

Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany) with a 10.37-minute gap finished the special stage on Friday in tenth place. They contested the special stage as the 22nd car out and in the dust kicked up by the cars starting in front of them almost had no opportunities for overtaking. Despite this, the duo improved by one position to eleventh place overall.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "The 13th leg ended well for Volkswagen with another stage victory along with places three, four and ten. The special stage was tough, the route covered with lots of deep potholes. The drivers confirmed that the suspension works well on this type of surface. The team invests a lot of effort and ambition every day to prepare the cars in an optimum manner. Our planning, which we established before the rally, fully pays off because we're making prudent use of our resources."

Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 10th place (leg) / 11th place overall: "We started from 22nd place. On such a fast stage the dust kicked up by the cars in front doesn't give you a chance to overtake. We decided not to take any risks and finished the stage at a reasonable pace. On the way we stopped for Krzysztof Holowczyc, who had seriously rolled over."

Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place (leg) / 9th place overall: "I'm happy about the fact that we clinched another stage victory. It's also a birthday present for Michel for the great job he's doing. It's been a good day although the conditions were very difficult. The navigation on the 13th leg was tricky because there were a lot of parallel tracks which could easily cause you to lose your orientation. What's more, we were the first car to hit the track."

Mark Miller (USA), 3rd place (leg) / 5th place overall: "Third place is okay because the situation was tight again today, running alongside the trees, and we were driving in the dust clouds of the other cars for what seemed to be an eternity. First we followed Nasser Al-Attiyah, whom we were able to overhaul, but we didn't manage to pass Nani Roma. Then we made a navigation error at a place where some other competitors got lost as well."

For the Dakar Rally's obligatory passages through water, Volkswagen prepared snorkels for the engine that run along the right-hand A-pillar all the way up to the roof. "As far as the intake air of the engine is concerned this increases the wading ability by 50 centimetres to about 1.50 metres," Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen explained.

Michel Périn is celebrating his birthday on 19 January at the bivouac in Tambacounda. On the evening of the 13th leg the team wishes him well and gives him a cake. But Périn will not spend much time celebrating. "The roadbook for the penultimate leg comes first. After all, despite being short, the route from Tambacounda to Dakar is difficult," said Périn, who is turning 50.

After 13 nights in a tent the Volkswagen Motorsport team is returning to civilisation. In Tambacounda the crew will spend their last night in a tent. When the rally squad arrives in Dakar Saturday afternoon, the 78 team members can look forward to a soft hotel bed and a bath tub for the first time since their departure from Portugal.

For the first time, Aral as the Volkswagen factory team's technology partner, supplied the team with its premium fuel, Aral ultimate Diesel, during the Dakar Rally. The refuelling of Volkswagen's cars required a true logistical feat: A total of 220 barrels of Aral ultimate Diesel had to be transported to the trackside respective bivouacs in time. Transporting the first 30 barrels with Aral ultimate Diesel to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon with assistance from logistics partner DHL was a comparatively easy task. A lot more difficult was shipping the fuel to the African countries of Morocco and Mauritania. In Remscheid the barrels were filled with Aral ultimate Diesel and sent on their way to Africa from Hamburg and Rotterdam aboard container ships. Before reaching Morocco and Mauritania, the containers had to loaded onto smaller coastal boats, which ultimately carried the barrels to the respective harbours. A seal applied to each individual barrel guaranteed to the team that the barrel contained exactly the fuel to which the diesel engines of the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 prototypes have been tuned.

2007/01/19 | 16:45 CET | Editor: MR/EP/ASO

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