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Optic Tunisia: Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz wins Tunisia prologue.

Finishing the four-kilometre prologue in Nice in first and fourth places respectively, Volkswagen works drivers Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers with their new co-drivers Michel Périn and Dirk von Zitzewitz started into the Rally of Tunisia. In slightly overcast spring weather, thousands of enthusiastic rally fans were lining the narrow mountain pass in the hinterland of Nice to witness the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 cars and their rivals on the only special stage in Europe. Immediately after the prologue the rally convoy with 58 cars, 59 motorcycles and 85 support vehicles rolled onto the ferry for Tunisia. From the port of Tunis the route will lead to the first bivouac at Ras El Oued on Monday where the first 288-kilometre special stage in Africa will start on Tuesday morning.

"Today’s show stage near Nice in front of many enthusiastic fans is a nice beginning for this rally" said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Both Race Touareg cars ran perfectly. But the real competition starts in Africa. Until the finish in Djerba we have seven tough legs and 2039 classified kilometres ahead of us. A good preparation for the 2007 Dakar Rally." And daily-winner Carlos Sainz added: "Of course first place in the prologue is a great way to start this rally. This stage was not typical for a marathon rally and was more like the legs in the WRC. That suited me well. From Tuesday, new territory will be awaiting me in Africa: This is not only my first Tunisia Rally, but also my first stint with Michel Périn as my co-driver."

Standings after the prologue in Nice

01. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) I VW Race Touareg I 00:03:54
02. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F) I Mitsubishi Pajero Evo I 00:03:58
03. Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (J/F) I Mitsubishi Pajero Evo I 00:04:00
04. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) I VW Race Touareg I 00:04:03
05. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F) I Mitsubishi Pajero Evo I 00:04:08
06. Jean-L. Schlesser/François Borsotto (F/F) I Schlesser-Ford I 00:04:14

2006/04/10 I 12:17 CET I Editor:

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