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PAX Rally: Volkswagen driver Sainz at the front in Portugal after day two.

On the second leg of the second round of the Dakar Series in Portugal the Volkswagen factory duo Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), after finishing the special stage in fifth place, captured the overall lead, which they now share - with an equal time result - with Mitsubishi drivers Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard.

After the second, 199-kilometre leg of the rally, overall victory is still within reach for the Volkswagen duos Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) as well. After finishing today’s special stage in third place, Depping/Gottschalk continue ranking fourth overall - just 30 seconds behind the front runners.

They reduced their gap by almost two minutes. De Villiers/von Zitzewitz - after setting the seventh-best stage time - follow another 49 seconds behind them in sixth place. The competition at the second round of the Dakar Series thus intensified yet again: After 422 of the total of 829 timed kilometres - in other words roughly at the rally’s mid-point - the top three vehicles are separated by merely two seconds.

The second leg from Castelo Branco to Benavente led across narrow passages back to the Greater Lisbon Area. Besides again being challenged by numerous branch-offs and narrow bends, which required precise instructions by the co-drivers, the drivers had to demonstrate their skills particularly on long sections with loose gravel. On the third leg from Benavente to Alcochete on Friday the teams are in for 180 timed kilometres, which -this time - will be split into two special stages.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director): "The interim results after leg two show the high level at which Volkswagen and Mitsubishi are fighting for overall victory here in Portugal. The second leg was hard work again. Although the average speed was low, the drivers and co-drivers were put to the test by tight bends and narrow sections. All three Race Touareg vehicles ran flawlessly again today. The drivers and co-drivers did a perfect job as well. Unfortunately, a puncture cost Carlos Sainz a lot of time. Such things can always happen. So far, we´re more than satisfied with this ‘Dakar´ dress rehearsal."

Carlos Sainz (E): "A truly thrilling rally. Luc Alphand and we are sharing the top position. Stéphane Peterhansel is only two seconds behind us - that doesn´t give us any kind of a break. Any small mistake can be crucial and you need that little bit of luck as well. Unfortunately, we didn´t have that today, because we had to stop and change the tyre after a puncture. That cost us a lot of time, but, despite this, nothing´s lost yet. The rally remains a thriller and I´m looking forward to the next three days."

Dieter Depping (D): "The characteristics of the routes today were almost the same as on the first leg: very tight bends, narrow trails, loose gravel. The Race Touareg felt good. In the overall classification we recovered time today and are now within a striking distance to the top. Anything´s possible, even the podium result we´re shooting for."

Giniel de Villiers (RSA): "With such small gaps at the top, the rally practically starts from scratch tomorrow. All in all, it´s been a good day for us, although a slow puncture forced us to search for a suitable place to change the tyre and we were only able to do that on a hardtop piece of road. That cost time, but not too much. Even with a gap of a little more than a minute nothing´s been decided yet at all. We can still win this rally. This is still our goal."

2008/09/11 | 22:23 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Volkswagen

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