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Morocco Rally: Volkswagen driver De Villiers takes lead in Morocco

Successful opener: Three Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 cars are leading after the first day of the Morocco Rally. On the 245-kilometre first leg on mostly stony tracks around the desert oasis of Zagora Volkswagen factory driver Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) together with his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz clinched the stage victory in front of their team-mates Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (Spain/France) as well as Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (Portugal/Germany) in the Race Touareg of Team Lagos.

Mark Miller and co-driver Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) are in fifth place after two punctures. On Wednesday, the Morocco Rally, the fourth round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, will continue with a 327-kilometre loop. On the leg east of Zagora the contenders will encounter the first fields of dunes.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "The first leg of the Morocco Rally was successful, with places one, two, three and five. The track today was very hard and dusty and offered few overtaking opportunities. Some of our drivers were held up by slower cars and motorcycles. We’re well on schedule, all four Race Touareg arrived at the bivouac early so that we were able to start in good time with the preparations for the second leg."

Carlos Sainz: "Today’s route was a typical Dakar leg: It was hard and stony. For us, everything went smoothly. After only a short time, we were the first vehicle out and lost a few seconds when a car with local people was on the track and we had to stop briefly. We are satisfied and look forward to the four demanding stages that are coming up."

Giniel de Villiers: "It’s perfect to start this rally with a stage victory. Our Race Touareg was running like a charm. For us, on today’s stage with its partly quick and partly very twisty, stony stretches it was particularly important not to make any mistakes, not to suffer any punctures and to find the right rhythm. We managed to do all that."

Mark Miller: "Unfortunately, it was an average day for us because we had a problem with the Sentinel system that warns the other vehicles when we get ready to overtake. That’s why we had difficulties getting past some motorcycles because they can’t hear us. To pass, we had to drive alongside the track and that caused us to suffer two punctures."

Carlos Sousa: "We’re satisfied. On the hard stretches we didn’t have any punctures. From a sporting point of view we could have achieved a slightly better result because, after the field had been close together in the beginning, I lost some time in the second half behind a BMW. The track was too tight for overtaking that car. We’re looking towards the second leg with optimism. For Wednesday, we’re going to change the set-up a little. Also, our third place today gives us a good starting position."

2007/09/25 | 18:34 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Volkswagen

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