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Dakar 2009: What they said in the Volkswagen Camp.

Good opening for Volkswagen in the Dakar Rally: The Race Touaregs fill positions second to fourth after the first stage. On the opening day of the legendary cross country rally’s debut in South America, Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) finished second behind Nasser Al-Attiyah/Tina Thörner (Q/S) in a BMW. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) follow in third place in another Volkswagen only 23 seconds behind Sainz. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) completed Volkswagen’s good team performance with fourth position on the stage from Buenos Aires to Santa Rosa in Argentina.

On the 733 kilometre and longest opening Dakar stage in the event´s recent history Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) established themselves in front of their team mates up to the third time checkpoint, however on the final section they dropped back. A technical problem occurred along the stage on which the fast straight sections switched back-and-forth onto farm tracks at 90 degree bends. The German duo last a total of one hour as a result.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "That was a successful opening day to the Dakar Rally, for both the rally itself and also for Volkswagen. The spectators´ enthusiasm is really fantastic; they line the route and roar-on the competitors. I´m even more satisfied that Volkswagen made a near perfect start to the Dakar. Second, third and fourth positions are an excellent and satisfying team result. Only a small electrical problem with a huge effect cost Dieter Depping a lot of time. Only five per cent of the overall distance has been completed. I´m optimistic that all our teams will play an important role till the end of the rally."

Carlos Sainz: "The first stage started very well for us. We found a good rhythm for this really extremely fast stage. However, after 115 kilometres we caught up with Stéphane Peterhansel who was on the road in front of us in a Mitsubishi. Because of the large dust cloud it wasn´t possible to overtake safely. For this reason we took very few risks and remained behind Stéphane for the rest of the stage."

Giniel de Villiers: "Today it was just a question of taking as little risk as possible. At just a little more than two minutes behind the leader we have stayed within striking distance without wanting too much. This was exactly our target. The stage was really fast and we had to overtake a lot of motorbikes in the dust. We saw just how quickly something can happen in a dangerous situation when a motorbike rider crashed directly in front of us. Luckily we were able to stop in time."

Dieter Depping: "The start of the first stage ran positively. We found our pace quickly and were able to maintain it. I felt very comfortable in the Race Touareg again. However, 80 kilometres before the finish we had a technical and obvious electrical problem. The engine wouldn´t rev above 2,000 rpm anymore and so we lost an hour. Some of this also because we attempted to repair the problem with what we had on board and lost additional time as a result. However, all is not lost. The Dakar Rally still has a lot of challenges in store for us and our rivals."

Mark Miller: "That was one of the fastest opening stages to a rally that I have ever driven. On the one hand it was not so demanding, but on the other hand we had to be very cautious when overtaking the motorbikes. We caught them up early into the stage and it was difficult to find a safe way past them in the dust. All in all it was a successful start to the Dakar."

2009/01/03 | 23:46 CET | Editor: MR/HS/U.Baldes

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