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PAX Rally: Stage victory and lead for Volkswagen driver Sainz in Portugal.

By clinching its first stage victory on the third leg of the second round of the Dakar Series in Portugal the Volkswagen factory duo Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) took the exclusive overall lead. Their team-mates Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) improved to third overall in another Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 thanks to setting the third-best time of the day.

Despite Volkswagen’s advantage the decision in the fight for victory is still full of suspense: Before the two remaining legs Sainz/Périn, who had won the first round of the Dakar Series, are lying 2.21 minutes ahead of Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (Mitsubishi). Another 58 seconds behind them Villiers/von Zitzewitz and Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (Mitsubishi) are sharing position three with the same time result.

For Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk, the second round of the Dakar Series in Portugal ended prematurely. The German Volkswagen factory duo retired after an accident which occurred shortly after the start of the first special stage. The driver and co-driver sustained no injuries in the accident. Dieter Depping, who finished the Central Europe Rally in April on third position, was taken to a hospital for a precautionary medical check.

The third day of the competition again offered the teams quick gravel sections with many jumps. The leg with two identical special stages of 90 kilometres each from Benavente to Alcochete led through partially wooded areas. On Saturday the teams will cover a leg from Alcochete to Portimão, with 159 timed kilometres.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "Today we’ve got some good and some not-so-good news. The not-so-good news is that we’ve got one Race Touareg less running in the rally. Dieter Depping and Timo Gottschalk made a small driving mistake and retired. At such a tough rally, where the driving is at the limit every second, such things can happen. Good news number one, though, is that both drivers are okay. Good news number two is that Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers showed a strong performance today. Stage victory and places one and three overall are the reward for this.”

Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place leg / 1st place overall: "Today the sections were quicker than yesterday but still extremely narrow. You had to constantly be on guard not to make a mistake. Things were going really well for us and we finally had that bit of luck you need. Like all top drivers we didn’t suffer any punctures on this leg. So were’ very satisfied, having put a bit of a distance between ourselves and our rivals in the overall standings.”

Dieter Depping (D), accident: "Unfortunately, today came to a much too early end. In a long right-hand bend, which tapered a bit, we got too far onto the loose gravel on the edge of the track. We slid off the track with all four wheels. We avoided a first tree but then hit a second one head-on. Fortunately, Volkswagen attaches a lot of importance to safety, so my co-driver Timo and I are okay. The Race Touareg absorbed a lot of energy. But the end of the rally for us is more than frustrating. We’d have much rather brought a success home to our mechanics – instead of a lot of work.”

Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 3rd place leg / 3rd place overall: "Particularly on the second special stage things were going really well for us. My co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz made some notes on the first special, which then helped us when we passed these places the second time. It was very easy today to hit a tree and lose it all. But in view of the overall standings we needed to attack as well. To find the right balance was a demanding task.”

Standings after leg 3, Benavente (P) – Alcochete (P); 180/250 km Stages 3+4/Total

1. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 1h53m16 (1st); 8h21m41s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 1h55m35 (5th) + 2m21s
3. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 1h55m16 (3rd) + 3m19s

3. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 1h56m35 (6th) + 3m19s
5. Joan Roma/Lucas Cruz Senra (E/E); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 1h57m25 (7th) + 4m50s
6. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Tina Thörner (QT/S); BMW X3; 1h55m21 (4th) + 7m31s
7. Filipe Campos/Jaime Baptista (P/P); BMW X3; 1h59m30 (8th) + 16m36s
8. Pedro Grancha/Paulo Primaz (P/P); Nissan Navara; 2h07m49 (11th) + 39m19s
9. Guerlain Chicherit/Mathieu Baumel (F/F); BMW X3; 1h55m03 (2nd) + 39m43s
10. Miroslav Zapletal/Tomás Ourednicek (CZ/CZ); Mitsubishi L200; 2h03m52 (10th) + 39m43s

2008/09/12 | 20:27 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Rita Konya

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