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Dakar 2007: Triple stage victory for Volkswagen on stage 14.

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. "On this difficult stage things went well for us as our stage victory shows" said Sainz in the finish, "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."

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). "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" reported Giniel de Villiers. "On the twisty trails we lost about three minutes after 160 kilometres due to minor navigation errors. In addition, the motorcycle riders in front of us left a big trail of dust."

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. "Up to CP1 things were going well and we really put the pressure on. After 40 kilometres 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."

In the overall classification, which 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.

"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" remarked Motorsport-Director Kris Nissen. "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."

"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."

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-calibre research aimed at stimulating the regeneration of the spinal marrow.

2007/01/21 | 12:03 CET | Editor: MR/VW Press

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