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This is the single-news section of the marathonrally.com news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.









Dakar 2008: Volkswagen is ready to go after 350 days of preparation.






"After the Dakar is before the Dakar," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. The Volkswagen factory team spent twelve months preparing carefully for the technical, sporting and logistical challenge of the legendary Dakar Rally. Preparations for January 2008 started with a de-briefing with technicians and factory drivers immediately after the finish in Dakar in the afternoon of the 21 January 2007. More than two weeks through five countries, almost 5,700 competitive kilometres through the desert, mountains and along hard gravel tracks: The Dakar Rally demands record performances from the Volkswagen factory drivers and their four Race Touareg prototypes.

The drivers must be well-equipped for the long, stressful days in the cockpit requiring high-levels of concentration for hours on end, since hard knocks punish the body on rough tracks, heat during the day and cold during the night, lifting 40 kilogramme wheels when changing tyres or strenuously digging-out a bogged down car - in many situations the Dakar Rally demands that drivers and co-drivers have the perfect physique. Only those who are 100 per cent fit can work constantly at the highest level of concentration on the 15 stages and so avoid making the smallest mistakes.

A team of doctors and physiotherapists from the Sport Clinic Bad Nauheim ensure that the drivers and co-drivers are fit. The sport doctors prepare individual training programmes for each Volkswagen factory driver under the supervision of Dr Johannes Peil.

Unexpected rallying incidents must also be taken into account during the "Dakar": Sometimes it is a puncture on the hard gravel tracks or, due to the enormous forces exerted on the vehicles, damage which must be repaired en route. The drivers can only count on the help of the Race Trucks registered in the competition during the two-day marathon stage. "Therefore it is even more important to be able to solve small problems ourselves," explains Dieter Deppings co-driver Timo Gottschalk.

Volkswagen Motorsport organises workshops to ensure that every driver and co-driver is equally familiar with their rally car: Dieter Depping, Mark Miller, Giniel de Villiers, Carlos Sainz and their co-drivers carry out small repairs and maintenance alone under the supervision of the engineers. Tools and several spare parts such as toe-links, control units, sensors, hoses and driveshafts are stored on board during the rally, but are not required in ideal circumstances.

The Volkswagen Race Touareg, which recorded ten stage victories in the 2007 Dakar Rally, was further developed during an intensive test programme. "We knew how strong our team and the Race Touareg are, which is why we concentrated on detail work during the tests," says Kris Nissen. "Our target was to be prepared as soon as possible for the Dakar Rally." Every technical detail of the Race Touareg was put under the microscope in a "clean-up" process. "The Dakar specification for the Race Touareg was already determined in August and we were able to approach the World Cup rounds in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates as test races with the actual Dakar car," continues Kris Nissen.

Afterwards, the team concentrated on preparing the four factory entered Race Touareg prototypes for Carlos Sainz/Michel PĂ©rin (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D). The Service and Race Trucks for the two-week event in the desert were prepared, spare parts were ordered and the loading lists for the service vehicles completed in parallel.

The accompanying armada of technicians, physiotherapists, team management and engineers are en route along the so-called Service Route running parallel to the actual rally route during the "Dakar". In the evening the entire team meets in the bivouac, where it camps overnight far away from large towns. For the mammoth adventure "Dakar" an elaborate logistic plan is required, because it is not only spares and tools, but also approximately 80 one-man tents, sleeping bags, iso-mattresses and much more including personal clothing that must be transported in the trucks or service cars. Breakfast and dinner are served by the organiser from a central canteen in the bivouac. "We can hardly buy anything at all en route, which is why we must plan exactly what is transported," explains logistic expert Paco Crous. At the same time Christoph Beck, who is responsible for the service fleet at Volkswagen, organises that the trucks, Touareg and Transporter in the accompanying armada are prepared for the 15-day event.

Every team member receives a comprehensive series of inoculations before the rally and takes additional precautions against Malaria during the event. The teams travel arrangements were also made long before the Dakar Rally starts: Team Manager Peter Utoft prepares a detailed itinerary based on the length of each stage. Visa are applied for, hotels booked at the final destination, flight tickets from Dakar to Europe are bought and ferry crossings reserved for rally and service vehicles. So, the Volkswagen factory team is ready-to-go for the largest and most important task of the year: The 2008 Dakar Rally.

2007/12/16 | 17:25 CET | Editor: MR/Volkswagen/hs






















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