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Morocco Rally: Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz takes lead

Double victory for Volkswagen on the second leg of the Morocco Rally: By clinching stage victory ahead of their team-mates Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D), Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) in the Volkswagen Race Touareg took the lead in the fourth round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. Second place overall went to de Villiers/von Zitzewitz, the winners of the first special stage, ahead of Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D) in the Race Touareg of Team Lagos.

After suffering punctures on the first two days, the Volkswagen team of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) is running in fifth place, behind BMW driver Nasser Al-Attiyah. On Thursday, one of the two longest special stages - covering a distance of 344 kilometres - is awaiting the contenders. The third leg will initially take them through dune-covered areas and later through dry, hard riverbeds.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "We’re completely satisfied with the way the day went: We occupied the top two places on this leg. Some of the drivers suffered punctures, which is normal on these hard tracks. The entire squad is doing a superb job, it’s great to see how well the mechanics, technicians and drivers are working together."

Carlos Sainz: "It was really a day of hard work, but it went well for us. We’re happy to have taken the lead by clinching stage victory. The track was similar to Tuesday but we already crossed the first sand dunes. I get on well with the new vehicle specification for the 2008 ’Dakar’, the new 5-speed gearbox and the smaller air restrictor we’re using here in competitive conditions for the first time."

Giniel de Villiers: "There were three places where this extremely fast leg required very skilful navigation. There were a few passages where you had to be very careful to choose the right way - and this applied to us in particular as we were the first car out. In a speed zone we briefly got lost once and when Carlos was behind us afterwards, we let him pass. On the second half we had a slow puncture and, unfortunately, had to change the tyre after 250 kilometres. We managed to do this in record time - good practice for the Dakar Rally."

Mark Miller: "We had a good day without any problems. 50 kilometres before the finish we wanted to overtake a BMW and a motorcycle and chose a parallel track. We suffered a puncture in the process and that was disappointing. It was a nice stage, very quick in some parts. In a few places the ground was extremely hard, and you had to drive very carefully between big boulders. It felt as though we were tiptoeing through the sharp rocks to keep from puncturing our tyres."

Carlos Sousa: "A nice special stage, but not as quick as we’d been hoping. Somewhere in between there was a hard field of rocks where we drove with extreme caution to prevent tyre punctures. But in retrospect, we lost too much time there. Today, Nasser Al-Attiyah took more than a minute away from us, our plan for Thursday is to re-capture this time."

2007/09/26 | 16:38 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Volkswagen

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