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PAX Rally: Thrilling start for Volkswagen in Portugal.

On the first leg of the second round of the Dakar Series in Portugal the Volkswagen duo Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), after a fierce fight with Mitsubishi driver Luc Alphand, only had to admit defeat by two seconds.

After 223 of the total of 829 kilometres of special stages, last year’s World Cup winners are running in second place in their Volkswagen Race Touareg 2. This result was preceded by duels in the range of seconds and several lead changes.

At the first time check Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) in the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 were in front but dropped to position four due to a puncture. Then their team-mates Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) took the lead but caught motorcycles, which had started earlier, and in the end had to admit defeat by a narrow margin. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) followed after the rally’s longest special stage with a 51-second gap behind Sainz/Périn in position three.

The Volkswagen team uses the second round of the Dakar Series as the final competition before the 2009 Dakar Rally through South America. The starting leg in Portugal put drivers and co-drivers to the test particularly on tricky gravel passages and narrow sections.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "We’re more than comfortable with the result of the first day. Due to the many bends and branch-offs the pace wasn’t very fast but required the drivers and co-drivers to give everything nonetheless. They did a superb job. Dieter Depping was leading the special stage for a long time up to suffering his puncture, Carlos Sainz was beaten by Luc Alphand by just two seconds. Congratulations to Mitsubishi on this stage exploit. But if the three Race Touareg vehicles continue running as perfectly as they have been, we continue having the chance of clinching stage victories every day – and podium positions in the end.”

Carlos Sainz (E): "A truly tough leg. The tracks in Portugal were even a bit more difficult than expected. They resembled a WRC leg, except that – at about 220 kilometres – they were much longer. At the end of the stage we were the first car to catch motorcycles, which had started in front of us – in the end, with only few overtaking opportunities, this cost us time.”

Dieter Depping (D): "This was one of the toughest legs I’ve ever contested. The gravel stage with tight bends was not easy to drive and, in some places, very hard to sort. Tyre wear was an issue today as well, as we had to painfully notice. At the stage’s mid-point we had a slow puncture and had to change the tyre – that cost us about two minutes. Too bad because up to that point we were the quickest.”

Giniel de Villiers (RSA): "Today it was difficult for us to find the right rhythm. Unfortunately, I slightly overshot a few corners. That’s why it took a while for me to develop a more balanced feeling. Towards the end of the stage we did find our pace. The new ‘All Terrain’ tyre from BF Goodrich has a part in this because it offers more grip, particularly in these conditions.”

2008/09/10 | 21:14 CET | Editor: MR/Volkswagen/Rita Konya

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