|Dakar 2010: Volkswagen before the Rally - positive energy.|
The positive energy within the Volkswagen team is evident one day before the 2010 Dakar Rally’s ceremonial start. Volkswagen fields five Race Touareg cars in the legendary desert classic starting on 1 January in Buenos Aires and which runs for 9,000 kilometres through Argentina and Chile. Last year’s winner Giniel de Villiers, Carlos Sainz and their team-mates are Dakar ready immediately before the start of the acid test comprising of notorious Pampa, pitiless Atacama Desert and two Andes crossings plus the atmospheric start on New Year’s Day.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "We celebrated a historical victory last year and took the first diesel win in the Dakars´ automobile classification with the Race Touareg. To return to the site of this great triumph wakes positive memories. The energy and positive anticipation before the world´s toughest rally are enormously high within the team. We´ve never been so well prepared. As Motorsport Director I´m very confident even though it will be even more difficult than ever before to win the Dakar in 2010. We have the car, we have the team and we have the driver/co-driver pairings to win this rally again."
Giniel de Villiers (ZA) "The anticipation immediately before the Dakar Rally starts is now very high. My co-driver Dirk and I start the rally as defending champions. This is an honour, however, on the other hand it doesn´t change much. How we approach the tasks ahead remains the same; we´ll contest the stages in a focused and patient manner in order to avoid mistakes. If we manage this we can be right at the front again this year."
Dirk von Zitzewitz (D), co-driver "You notice how the tension rises. We completed the first kilometres in the car during the roll-out, the final preparations are finished. It´s now time for the rally to start and I´m already looking forward to the first competitive stage, when the stress falls and you can finally explode in a sporting sense. Giniel and I welcome the role of defending champions very much. It provides positive pressure."
Carlos Sainz (E) "The Dakar is only held once a year and it is the most important rally in our sport. Over the last few weeks and months the entire concentration was focused on the preparation. It´s fine that things finally got started. Our approach is, in contrast, always identical and also the way in which my co-driver and I tackle the rallies. We won both the ‘Sertões´ and Silk Way Rally. Now we want the same from the Dakar."
Lucas Cruz (E), co-driver "The Dakar is the Dakar and not like any other rally. The team-internal competition is big at Volkswagen, the competition outside however is by no means less tough. The plan is simple: We want to be faster than all the others and in the process take as little risk as possible. To actually implement this plan requires brains and also a little bit of luck."
Mark Miller (USA) "Particularly at the start of the rally you can lose more than you can gain. This is more easily said than done. During a Dakar you need great tenacity and patience. We have to wait and see just how the plan can be implemented, to accept small losses of time at the start and to look after the car so we can attack at the right time on the crucial stage."
Ralph Pitchford (ZA), co-driver "It goes without saying that it is the goal of every racer to improve constantly. After the 2009 Dakar there is only one position open for Mark and I. To be the number one - this is why we contest rallies. However, there are two extremely hard weeks ahead of us. Therefore, Mark and I only think from stage to stage. We will definitely do our best."
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) "My goal is very clear - to win the Dakar. I´ve been counting down the days and hours for months until I can climb into my car. It´ll be important to find the right pace. If you are too careful the competition exploits this, if you are too fast the risks at the start of the rally are especially high. So, you have to be clever. I hope that my co-driver Timo Gottschalk and I can manage this balancing act well."
Timo Gottschalk (D), co-driver "The calm before the storm is still apparent. To find and maintain this inner calm every day is my goal for this Dakar. Namely, to prepare the roadbook each evening for the following day with a clear head, and also to enter the stage rested and with a clear mind every day. We want to do our thing to achieve our goal of taking a good result. Obviously victory is the great dream."
Maurício Neves (BR) "Competing in the Dakar is the realisation of a great dream for my co-driver Clécio Maestrelli and I. To compete the first time with such a professional team like Volkswagen is the icing on the cake. I´m really looking forward to the start and the first special stage. The roll-out here close to Buenos Aires just made us want more."
Clécio Maestrelli (BR), co-driver "My first Dakar Rally with Volkswagen is like a beautiful new world for me. It´s a great honour that I can compete at this professional level and represent the colours of my country Brazil. I think that I also speak for Maurício when I say that we want to repay this trust and make a good impression during the Dakar."
Friday 1 January: Ceremonial start, Buenos Aires (RA)-Colón (RA). New Year´s Day is a prologue in the triple sense. For the Argentines 1 January represents the beginning of the national celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the independence. For the "Dakar" participants it is the emotional start to the competition. However, the first part of the Dakar Rally is arranged as a pure liaison stage to the finish Colón. The competitors only race against the clock on the following day.
2010/01/01 | 13:13 CET | Editor: MR/HS/S.Moser