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Rallye dos Sertoes: Sainz with stage win to overall lead.

After clinching their fourth stage victory at the Rallye dos Sertões the Volkswagen factory duo Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz Senra (E/E) has taken the outright lead. On the ninth leg of the cross-country rally through Brazil Sainz/Cruz Senra mastered the demanding route from Juazeiro do Norte to Caicó by setting the day’s fastest time and relegated Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), who finished the special stage as the runners-up, to second overall. The duo that drives a 280-hp Race Touareg from Wolfsburg as well missed a branch-off while being the leading vehicle shortly before the stage ended, turned around on the narrow gravel trail and then collided with the third Volkswagen duo Maurício Neves/Eduardo Bampi (BR/BR) that had missed the branch-off as well. Both pairings lost a few minutes but finished the stage in places two and three.

"Today was equally thrilling and demanding as yesterday. All three Race Touareg vehicles were running perfectly yet again. But today the Rallye dos Sertões once more proved to be tougher to some extent than the ‘Dakar’. The fact that we’re handling the stages flawlessly from a technical point of view despite the high demands makes me feel optimistic about the next Dakar Rally in South America,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen.

"An incredibly action-packed day. Today we had a slow puncture, had to change the tyre and Nasser Al-Attiyah passed us in the process. We stayed close on his heels but when Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Timo Gottschalk made a navigation error we were in front again. ‘Well done’ to my co-driver Cruz Senra for keeping us on track throughout,” said Carlos Sainz.

"Almost up to the end the stage was absolutely positive for us. We overtook Carlos Sainz at some point and thus made up the two-minute starting difference. Then we got lost. When we turned around and drove back we had a head-on collision with Maurício Neves who was headed in the wrong direction as well. Then we slowly drove to the finish. That’s too bad but these things can happen in our sport,” said Nasser Al-Attiyah.

"A strange incident cost us the stage win today. 15 kilometres before the end of the stage we misjudged a branch-off, had to turn around and go back. Because we noticed Maurício Neves approaching us too late we had a collision with him. Things like this can, but shouldn’t, happen,” said Timo Gottschalk.

"Today an absolutely positive day changed into one that wasn’t quite so good. The special stage was very fast, with narrow trails and gravel sections. We were running well and, as I’ve been told, even leading for some of the time. Then this incident happened – unfortunately, we can’t undo what happened,” said Maurício Neves.

2009/07/03 | 19:20 CET | Editor: MR/Volkswagen/Rita Konya

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