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Dakar 2009: Interviews with the Technicans of Volkswagen

24 rallies, 29 podium results, including nine victories: the tally of the Volkswagen Race Touareg since its debut in 2004 reflects numerous exploits. Almost half of the wins clinched on stages contested by a Race Touareg went to Wolfsburg. These results are backed by complex technical development. Here’s a brief interview with the three engineers who are responsible for the development and optimisation of the Race Touareg 2. A Dakar Rally contested in South America for the first time - what challenges does this debut pose in terms of technology?

Eduard Weidl, Technical Project Manager: "This year we primarily have to deal with high altitudes. On the liaison stages the rally vehicles have to overcome altitudes of up to 4,600 metres above mean sea level. This puts an increased load primarily on the engine, and in particular on the turbocharger. Since the oxygen content decreases as altitude increases, the revolutions in the turbocharger have to increase to prevent losing too much engine power. The same output as in flat terrain cannot be achieved because we have to reduce boost pressure in order to ensure durability." For humans, the critical zone starts at 7,500 metres. When does the Race Touareg reach its critical zone?

Donatus Wichelhaus, Head of Engine Development: "Actually, it never does, because this is only a question of tuning. If you adjust mapping in such a way that the turbocharger does not over-rev, there’s nothing to be expected except a loss of power. And considering the highest altitudes to be tackled this loss amounts to a little more than 20 per cent." What kinds of tests are suitable to prepare for these very special conditions?

Wichelhaus: "Primarily, tests in environmental test chambers. They are best suited for simulations of air pressure conditions encountered on the stages through the Andes and then running the engine under load. This enables a 99-per cent simulation of the real-world conditions encountered during the ‘Dakar’. It allows adapting the engine’s mapping to the findings gained." What other general development objectives were set for the Dakar Rally?

Andreas Lautner, Technical Director: "For the upcoming ‘Dakar’, we primarily focused on the durability of the Race Touareg and, in collaboration with the Quality Inspection and Control Department, achieved major progress. We now have a car of the highest quality standards - and this is what we need in order to, ultimately, win such a tough cross-country rally. For this reason, the other developments aimed at achieving further performance improvements were detailed solutions - such as a new wishbone for the rear suspension, improved visibility for the driver and an optimised hydraulics system for the dampers."

2008/11/10 | 19:17 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Volkswagen Motorsport

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