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Dakar 2009: Volkswagen consolidates lead after Stage 13.

Volkswagen consolidated its one-two lead with Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) on the 13th and penultimate leg of the Dakar Rally. On the leg from La Rioja to Córdoba, which had been shortened from 753 to 631 kilometres, the advantage of the two Race Touareg vehicles running in front at the extremely tough desert rally increased yet again, despite a deliberately restrained driving style because their closest rivals, Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA), lost 22m49s to the stage winners.

Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz (E/E) rejoiced with Mitsubishi about their first stage victory, while Volkswagen in a favourite overall position had opted for a defensive, no-risk driving style driven by team spirit. Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) in the Red Bull blue Race Touareg finished the stage, which - as at the beginning of the rally - featured quick gravel sections similar to a sprint rally, in fourth place. Miller/Pitchford finished the day in seventh, and de Villiers/von Zitzewitz in eighth place.

36-year-old Giniel de Villiers is thus ranking in first place overall, 2m20s ahead of Mark Miller. Robby Gordon in third overall is lacking as much as 1h27m to the front runners. With Dieter Depping in seventh place, the third remaining Race Touareg before the final 792-kilometre leg to Buenos Aires is among the top ten of the legendary desert classic that is being staged in South America through Argentina and Chile for the first time and that will end on Sunday with the drive across the official finish ramp.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "On the last two ‘Dakar´ legs, taking the three Race Touareg cars to the finish is of paramount importance. Our goal is not to clinch a stage win but the historic maiden victory of a diesel-powered vehicle at the legendary Dakar Rally. This is within reach now - for the final leg, this means: we will take the cars all the way to the finish. I have nothing but praise for the drivers and co-drivers´ excellent teamwork today. They perfectly followed our strategy and thus made another contribution towards achieving this big objective."

Giniel de Villiers (ZA): "We approached the penultimate leg of the Dakar Rally very cautiously. The key thing was to deliver the car in good condition at the finish. That wasn´t easy because today´s stage in particular offered several opportunities to damage the car. Loose gravel demanded my full concentration because it was very slippery. On Saturday, we´ll have to complete the final stage with one hundred per cent concentration as well."

Dieter Depping (D): "A very nice, very fast special stage which - yet again - very much resembled a classic sprint rally. That suited me extremely well and it was fun driving it. Today I had the part of accompanying the other two teams to the finish in the event this would have been necessary. I´ve got no problems with that whatsoever: The main thing is that at the end of this tough Dakar Rally a Volkswagen finishes as the winner. I´d do anything for that."

Mark Miller (USA): "The stage again offered lots of variety and, to be honest, we drove with reduced speed today. At this point of the rally, it´s all about taking it easy on the material, to keep from damaging anything and to see the finish every day. What´s more, we delivered good teamwork today. One thing is clear: We started the rally as a team and we´ll finish it as a team."

2009/01/17 | 02:37 CET | Editor: MR/HS/VW

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