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Morocco Rally: Triple lead for Volkswagen with Carlos Sainz in front

Volkswagen continues its triple lead in the Morocco Rally: With a double stage victory, the Volkswagen factory drivers Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (Spain/France) expanded their over lead to 4.31 minutes on the third of six competition days. Finishing the day in second place, their team-mates Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany) defended their position as the overall runner-up in front of Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (Portugal/Germany) in the Race Touareg of Team Lagos.

On the 344-kilometre stage around the desert oasis of Zagora, which is one of the two longest special stages of the entire rally, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) in the Volkswagen Race Touareg claimed fifth place overall behind BMW driver Nasser Al-Attiyah. On Friday, the fourth round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup will continue with another, 244-kilometre loop around Zagora.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"We’ve put three legs and a little more than half of the rally behind us. All four Race Touareg vehicles were running perfectly and the driver teams are working together very well. Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford are also doing well, considering that they’re not using a vehicle with the latest technical specification here. We now occupy the top 3 positions, both in terms of stage and overall results, but there are still three more legs and many kilometres of driving ahead of us. The drivers have to stay totally concentrated as just one big boulder can throw them out of the race – and there are quite a few of those around here."

#201 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place (leg) / 1st place overall
"Michel and I are really pleased with this second stage victory and the sound overall lead. Today’s leg offered a lot of variety. The track featured a demanding mix of big boulders, twisty and quick stretches and only little sand. Being the first car out meant that navigating was pretty difficult, but my co-driver Michel did a great job."

#202 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 2nd place (leg) / 2nd place overall
"In the beginning we approached Carlos up to 25 seconds, but then weren’t able to overtake him: There was practically no wind blowing so the clouds of dust stayed in the air for a long time and impaired visibility. At the end of the special stage, Carlos was a lot quicker than we were. After 80 kilometres we started suffering a slow puncture. This meant we weren’t really able to attack and had to be particularly careful on the stony stretches. However, given the circumstances, we were lucky because we didn’t have to change the tyre.”

#207 – Mark Miller (USA), 5th place (leg) / 5th place overall
"On the first 200 kilometres it was a very nice but also tough stage with lots of dust being kicked up by the cars in front. Then we had a slow puncture and ultimately had to change the tyre. Unfortunately, we had another puncture after only 30 kilometres and had to stop. After two punctures we decided to play it safe. In the next couple of days we want to make up time because our pace here is good, but we also had a lot of misfortune on the first three legs. "

#205 – Carlos Sousa (P), 3rd place (day) / 3rd place overall
"A nice leg without any problems. Every day we’re working on the set-up of our Race Touareg and are making good progress. We’re concentrating on the fight with Nasser Al-Attiyah. We took a lot of time away from him today, so we’ve got good reason to be satisfied."

Standings after stage 3, Zagora (MA) – Zagora (MA); 327/421 km stage 3/total

Pos. Team Vehicle Leg 3 Total time
1. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2h55m14s (1st); 8h19m12s
2. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2h55m47s (2nd) + 4m31s
3. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2h58m39s (3rd) + 16m28s
4. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Alain Guehennec (QA/F); BMW X3 CC; 3h04m01s (4th) + 22m11s
5. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 3h04m29s (5th) + 31m21s
6. Dominique Housieaux/Jean-M. Polato (F/F); Schlesser; 3h13m14s (8th) + 1h09m45s
7. Paulo Nobre/Filipe Palmeiro (BR/P); BMW X3 CC; 3h08m56s (7th) + 1h18m12s
8. Kenjiro Shinozuka/Roberto di Persio (J/I); Nissan Pathfinder; 3h30m53s (10th) + 1h58m24s
9. Lukasz Komornicki/Rafal Marton (PL/PL); SMG; 3h24m50s (9th) + 2h02m51s
10. Maris Saukans/Didzis Zarins (LV/LV); OSC; 3h37m15s (11th) + 2h03m18s

2007/09/27 | 22:49 CET | Editor: MR/Rita Konya

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