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PAX Rally: Volkswagen Motorsport Team is prepared for the start.

Successful roll-out, final check during the Technical Scrutineering, designation of a new type of tyre – the Volkswagen team is set to tackle the second round of the Dakar Series in Portugal with perfectly prepared material. But prior to the start in Lisbon on Wednesday not only the three Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 vehicles fielded in the event are in optimum shape, the entire squad displayed a high level of motivation with respect to this new challenge in cross-country rally racing, which marks the team’s "dress rehearsal” before the 2009 Dakar Rally in South America.

"It’s good to see how concentrated and focused our drivers and co-drivers as well as the whole squad act here in Portugal,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "After all, we’re in for a tough competition here, in which it’s likely that just a few seconds will be the deciding factor.” Alongside two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz (E) Giniel de Villiers (RSA), who – with four overall wins in the Race Touareg 2 – is the most successful Volkswagen driver, and Dieter Depping (D), who clinched a strong third place at the first round of the Dakar Series, are starting to the final, five-stage "Dakar” rehearsal.

Prominent co-driver: Olympic winner Christopher Zeller in the Race Touareg

As a fourth driver of a Volkswagen Race Touareg, Mark Miller will be driving the first leg outside the classification. The American, who most recently finished the Rallye dos Sertões through Brazil as the runner-up, will have a prominent athlete as his co-driver. Professional field hockey player Christopher Zeller, who clinched the only – and decisive – goal at the final match for the gold medal against Spain at the Olympic Games in Beijing, and thus made the German Hockey Association (DHB) selection the Olympic winner, will navigate Miller on the first leg from Lisbon to Castelo Branco. "In field hockey like in motorsport a lot depends on team spirit and perfect understanding,” Mark Miller commented about his interim co-driver. "For both of us, this will bring in-depth insights – but I think that Christopher in particular will gain an impression of what it means to be sitting in a genuine ‘Dakar’ prototype.”

Final check before the start: successful roll-out on Monday

Before the start in Lisbon the three Race Touareg 2 vehicles for Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) were subjected to a final technical check at a roll-out near the Portuguese capital. "We made a few ultimate changes to the fine-tuning of the set-up in order to prepare for the days ahead,” said Carlos Sainz. "As always, the Race Touareg 2 made a perfect impression. I’m confident that the changes to the setup we worked out at the test in Morocco will work well here in Portugal too – even though they were specifically worked out for the ‘Dakar’ in South America.”

New type of tyre: Volkswagen relies on BF Goodrich "All Terrain” in Portugal

In Portugal, Volkswagen is fitting all three Race Touareg competition vehicles with the newly developed "All Terrain” tyres by exclusive supplier BF Goodrich. Dieter Depping, who – like his driver colleagues Sainz, de Villiers and Miller – extensively tested the new tyre for the 2009 Dakar Rally in South America during trial runs in Morocco gave the tyres a positive rating through and through after the test: "Above all, the ‘All Terrain’ exhibits higher grip on lose ground. Particularly in sand the car does not dig itself into the ground as deeply. Handling has become much better but also requires a new suspension and damper set-up.”

2008/09/09 | 23:47 CET | Editor: MR/Volkswagen/Rita Konya

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