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Dos Sertões: Volkswagen goes to Brazil with three new pairings.

Dakar winner Volkswagen will contest the Rally dos Sertões through Brazil with three new driver pairings. Factory driver Carlos Sainz (Spain) will compete in the 5,043-kilometre rally from 23 June to 3 July with his compatriot Lucas Cruz Senra as his new co-driver for the first time; Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) - with co-driver Timo Gottschalk (Berlin) - will make his debut at the wheel of the successful Race Touareg.

In the third Race Touareg powered by a 280-hp TDI diesel engine the Brazilians Maurício Neves, the winner of the 2007 "Sertões", and Eduardo Bampi want to use their home advantage. For Volkswagen, the rally covering ten legs from Goiânia to Natal marks the first competition run following the historic first diesel triumph of an automobile manufacturer at the Dakar Rally in January.

For Volkswagen, the Rally dos Sertões is a perfect way to prepare for the Dakar Rally in many respects," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "The terrain is very similar to some of the Dakar legs. In addition, this rally poses challenges not even offered by the Dakar.

Therefore, it´s a good place for the whole team to thoroughly prepare itself in a tough competition for the highlight in January 2010. This also applies to our newly formed driver pairings who have to compete - inside our team - with the local team of Maurício Neves and Eduardo Bampi who have ‘Sertões´ experience under their belts."

Before the rally starts, the Brazilians Maurício Neves and Eduardo Bampi will be given plenty of opportunities to familiarise themselves with their new competition vehicle, the Race Touareg, during tests in their native Brazil.

Maurício Neves has set a clear sporting goal for himself at the 17th running of his home rally: "It is a great honour for Eduardo and me to be able to compete in the team of the ‘Dakar´ winner alongside stars like Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Race Touareg proved on numerous occasions that it´s the quickest and most reliable vehicle in this sport. It was the measure of all things at the 2008 ‘Sertões´ as well. That´s why we want to sell ourselves with this top vehicle in front of our home audience as dearly as possible. Our goal is a podium place."

Featuring more than 5,000 rally kilometres, ten legs without a rest day and high outside temperatures, the Rally dos Sertões ranks among the toughest events on the cross-country rally calendar. Crossing a total of six Brazilian provinces poses numerous challenges to the teams: In 2008, for example, as well as some 40 water crossings with a length of 150 metres high-speed gravel sections were on the agenda.

"The ‘Sertões´ differs from the Dakar Rally, even though both are having analogies and are staged on the same continent," says Timo Gottschalk, the co-driver of the team´s newcomer Nasser Al-Attiyah. "It´ll be crucial to perfectly adjust the pace to the changing conditions without taking risks and without unnecessarily losing time."

The Rally dos Sertões is the first of two rallies Volkswagen will contest in preparation for the 2010 Dakar Rally. In addition to the event in Brazil, the factory team´s schedule includes the Silk Way Rallye through Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan from 5 to 13 September, which is organised by "Dakar" organiser A.S.O and provides a foretaste of the dune and sand stretches at the "Dakar".

Route of the 2009 Rally dos Sertões

23 Jun 2009 Goiânia (GO), ceremonial start
24 Jun 2009 1 Goiânia (GO) - Santa Helena (GO), 256 km, 327 km
25 Jun 2009 2 Santa Helena (GO) - Cidade de Goiás (GO), 334 km, 469 km
26 Jun 2009 3 Cidade de Goiás (GO) - Minaçu (GO), 393 km, 636 km
27 Jun 2009 4 Minaçu (GO) - Palmas (TO), 487 km, 762 km
28 Jun 2009 5 Palmas (TO) - Luís Eduardo Magalhães (BA), 300 km, 538 km
29 Jun 2009 6 Luís Eduardo Magalhães (BA) - Barra (BA), 364 km, 558 km
30 Jun 2009 7 Barra (BA) - Petrolina (PE), 235 km, 543 km
01 Jul 2009 8 Petrolina (PE) - Juazeiro do Norte (CE), 213 km, 421 km
02 Jul 2009 9 Juazeiro do Norte (CE) - Caicó (RN), 184 km, 439 km
03 Jul 2009 10 Caicó (RN) - Natal (RN), 114 km, 350 km
04 Jul 2009 Natal (RN), podium ceremony

Total 2,880 km, 5,043 km

2009/06/17 | 12:09 CET | Editor: MR/HS/U.Baldes

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