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PAX Rally: Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz defends lead in Portugal.

Volkswagen drivers Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn have defended their lead in the second round of the Dakar Series in Portugal with a 4th place ranking in the latest stage.

Ahead of the final stage of 68 kilometres, the Spanish and French pair are 31 seconds ahead of Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (Mitsubishi). After their stage victory yesterday, Sainz/Périn set out in front on the highly diverse route from Alcochete to Portimão, which posed some grip problems early on due to some sandy stretches.

The drivers in the second Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D), also lost some ground on this fourth of five stages, but are nevertheless still ranked fourth overall, and are still within reach of a podium position, just 1.41 minutes behind Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (Mitsubishi).

The teams encountered some sandy stretches at the beginning of the stage from Alcochete to Portimão, but the 159-kilometre-long special stage soon changed its character and it was back to narrow, gravelly roads towards the end of the leg. The second round of the Dakar Series draws to a close on Sunday, with a 68-kilometre loop not far from the harbour town of Portimão. For the Volkswagen team, the Dakar Series is a dress rehearsal for the Dakar Rally through South America in early January.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director) : "Today’s racing was typical of marathon rally sport and went by the motto of ‘Expect the unexpected’. Starting up front on this special stage was anything but an advantage, but our two pairs of drivers and co-drivers who are still in the competition nevertheless did an excellent job. Congratulations to Stéphane Peterhansel on his stage victory. We can already look back on some very exciting days. Carlos Sainz is still ahead by 31 seconds – and overall victory after tomorrow’s final day of racing is most definitely a possibility. But it will be gripping right to the end.”

Carlos Sainz (E), 4th place leg / 1st place overall: "We were especially careful at the beginning of the stage, and it was easy to hit tree stumps on the sandy stretches. So we lost a little time there. But of course, anything is possible in tomorrow’s final day. We currently have a small lead – and we’ll see what we can do with that. One thing’s for sure – we’ll be giving it our all right up to the finishing line.”

Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 5th place leg / 4th place overall: "Being one of the first cars to start was a major disadvantage today. There was lots of loose surface gravel and the Mitsubishi drivers ahead of us were able to pull away from us a little. But we’re still aiming for a podium position. With the time we need to make good, that’s quite a challenge on a race of 68 kilometres. But we’re ready to rise to the challenge, and we’ll be attacking again tomorrow.”

2008/09/13 | 19:12 CET | Editor: MR/Volkswagen Motorsport/Rita Konya

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