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Dakar 2009: Volkswagen drivers - What they said before start.

The Volkswagen team is ready for the Dakar Rally: Before the premiere of the cross country rally in South America the four powerful 280 hp Race Touaregs of Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) received the obligatory starting permission at technical scrutineering. After rolling across the start ramp during the official opening ceremony in the centre of Buenos Aires on Friday evening (2 January), the 9,758 kilometre long competition through Argentina and Chile starts on Saturday with the first stage to Santa Rosa de la Pampa.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "We can now say that ‘the car´ is ready for ‘the race´. The preparation phase of almost an entire year is finally concluded with technical scrutineering in Buenos Aires. We developed the Race Touareg still further in the engine and suspension areas, have improved driver vision and, as a team, prepared as best as possible for maintenance and service work on the vehicles in the bivouacs with optimised procedures. When compared with last year the Race Touareg is once again quicker. We have strong opponents in the form of our competitors Mitsubishi, X-raid BMW and Robby Gordon in the Hummer. Our goal is to beat them and be the first manufacturer to win the ‘Dakar´ with Diesel Technology."

Carlos Sainz (E): "The tension is climbing by the minute before the start of the Dakar Rally. The atmosphere in Argentina and Chile is simply fantastic. In the last few days during the autograph sessions for example we have seen just how passionate and inspired the fans are for rallying. This is good for us drivers and in turn good for our sport. For this reason as well I´m really looking forward to rolling across the start ramp."

Michel Périn (F), co-driver: "With the route that the organisers have chosen I´m convinced that we can expect the toughest ‘Dakar´ ever. The demands made of drivers and co-drivers are extremely high due to the permanently changing terrain. The premiere in South America will therefore be anything but easy. We´ll have to be on top of our game at all times and prepare for the physically demanding long stages."

Giniel de Villiers (ZA): "The Dakar Rally is anything but a one-man-show for the driver. The entire team must perform absolutely perfectly and must show no weaknesses - engineers, mechanics, drivers and co-drivers. I can promise that my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz and I will do everything within our powers to improve on the ‘Dakar´ result from 2006 when I was second. For this we also need Lady Luck to be smiling on us."

Dirk von Zitzewitz (D), co-driver: "The preparations for the ‘Dakar´ beforehand asked a lot of us. Studying maps intensively was on the agenda for me in particular, because I have never contested a rally here in Argentina or Chile. The picture that I have formed from all these bits of information means that we can expect many highlights. The terrain will be very varied. I can hardly wait for it to finally get going."

Dieter Depping (D): "The first few days at the start in Buenos Aires have given us a taste of the forthcoming Dakar Rally. The fans really are passionately involved, and the hospitality is amazing. I´m already looking forward to starting in front of these people even though a great deal is expected of us. It will be even hotter than in Africa and it will be a question of keeping concentrated. The Race Touareg has one really excellent feature to assist with this: An air-conditioning system will help us to keep a cool head."

Timo Gottschalk (D), co-driver: "Many technical sections, dunes, sand and gravel sections - all this can be expected on such a unique rally. The changes along the long ‘Dakar´ stages will be immense and in part, therefore, a contrast to the earlier years in Africa. I´m really looking forward to it. The minimum goal is obviously to reach the finish line on 18 January, as far as anything else is concerned we´ll just let it come to us."

Mark Miller (USA): "The team preparations are over. We completed a roll-out here and went through technical scrutineering. I also completed a personal altitude training session at 3,000 metres over Christmas just before the Dakar. Everything is perfectly prepared for the start - as far as I´m concerned I´d much rather start the first stage today than tomorrow."

Ralph Pitchford (ZA), co-driver: "The tension is climbing slowly but surely as the start approaches. After completing document inspection and technical scrutineering we have overcome the final bureaucratic hurdle which finally allows us to start the rally on Saturday. Even when you meet the other competitors here in the ‘Dakar´ Village you feel the butterflies in your stomach. But it is also clear that we are ready to tackle the job in hand."

2009/01/02 | 22:17 CET | Editor: MR/HS/U. Baldes

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