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Dakar 2010: Successful "Dakar" start for Volkswagen Team.

A solid team performance on the first Dakar day: Volkswagen accomplished the first special stage of the 2010 Dakar Rally with a good team result – all five Race Touareg vehicles are among the top ten at the beginning of the rally. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) reached the day’s finish in the best Volkswagen Race Touareg with a 2.07-minute gap in second place behind their Spanish compatriot Nani Roma in the X-raid BMW. The next Race Touareg followed in fourth place: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) were 3.29 minutes behind the front runners, followed by last year’s winners Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) with a 4.31-minute gap in fifth place. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) came eighth. The fifth Race Touareg, piloted by Maurício Neves/Clécio Maestrelli (BR/BR), completed the Volkswagen team performance in position ten.

Since several stretches of waters were inundated due to heavy rainfalls the organisers were forced to relocate the start of the first special stage by 52 kilometres. Its distance was thus reduced from 251 to 199 kilometres. At first, quick sections on firm soil were on the agenda. More twisty and narrow passages on stony ground, particularly allowing drivers with experience in classic sprint rallies to shine, formed the day´s finale.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director) "The rally started very well for Volkswagen. Everything´s going according to plan. We´re more than pleased with the day´s result. We´ve just covered four per cent of the rally and therefore still have a corresponding distance ahead of us. Tomorrow´s second leg will be about driving straight through as well. The difficult sections of the rally will start day after tomorrow. Only then can we seriously begin thinking about the strategy."

Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 5th place: "It´s an honour being able to open the first ‘Dakar´ leg as the title defender. Unfortunately, this was not particularly advantageous today. We weren´t able to use the tracks of preceding vehicles for orientation. In addition, due to the many stones along the edges of the track there was more to be lost than gained by taking too much of a risk. The first 200 kilometres of the ‘Dakar´ were demanding - but not the crucial ones. That´s why we didn´t show everything yet."

Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place: "The beginning of the leg was positive in every respect and we were able to catch up with Robby Gordon in the Hummer who had started in front of us. In his dust it was impossible to overtake on our own power. We used the sentinel but apparently Robby didn´t notice that. Still, second place is a good starting base for tomorrow, which will be similar in terms of the route´s characteristics."

Mark Miller (USA), 8th place: "The style of today´s leg was totally that of the World Rally Championship. This isn´t necessarily the driving style I prefer. Nevertheless, I´m pleased with the first day because we didn´t lose a lot of time although we proceeded with caution. The Dakar Rally is never decided on the first day. Especially at the beginning it´s important not to take any unnecessary risks and to keep the car in top shape."

Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 4th place: "It was a good ‘Dakar´ start for us. Quick stretches and sections like those in the World Rally Championship alternated. Today it was important to achieve a good position for the next day, and we managed to do this. Yet the first 200 special-stage kilometres were anything but an easy beginning and, in particular, involved a much heavier mental strain than expected."

Maurício Neves (BR), 10th place: "The leg was particularly appealing from a technical point of view. The route was narrow, very twisty and greatly resembled those at my home rally, the ‘Sertoes´. It was good fun driving it. I think we found a good rhythm. That´s why I´m very pleased with the first part of the Dakar Rally which is new to me."

At the 2010 Dakar Rally the Volkswagen Race Touareg has a total of 132 sensors providing information to the engineers about temperatures, pressures and mechanical movements by means of data logging. Upon arrival at the bivouac the data of each of the five 300-hp "Dakar" prototypes are read out and analysed using special software in order to optimise the vehicle set-up based on these parameters.

Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Volkswagen management board member for technical development, subjected the new Volkswagen Amarok to a field test before the Dakar Rally. Prior to the start of the desert classic, the first legs of which Hackenberg is watching on location, over 5,000 kilometres in the south of Argentina were on the agenda of the 59-year-old. "I was delighted with the new Amarok," said Hackenberg. "The vehicle not only proved its prowess throughout the tour but also attracted a lot of attention. I´m sure that it will be a big seller, particularly in South America." Additionally, as a version featuring special modifications for the Dakar Rally, the Amarok is making its debut as a support vehicle of the Volkswagen factory team and as an official rally vehicle of the "Dakar" organiser A.S.O.

Volkswagen co-driver Timo Gottschalk traditionally banks on the support of a special good luck charm during his runs in the Race Touareg. The Berliner puts a sticker of Berti, a German ZDF TV cartoon figure, on the roll cage of his cross-country rally prototype. His driver Nasser Al-Attiyah followed suit. The man from Qatar opted for Bert´s companion Det to adorn the driver´s side.

2010/01/03 | 12:47 CET | Editor: MR/HS/S.Moser











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