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Silk Way Rally: Carlos Sainz wins fourth leg of Silk Way Rally.

The fourth leg took the teams in the west of Kazakhstan from Oral (Russian: Uralsk) at high speed through a completely flat steppe region, empty desert - partially on very soft sand - and ended in Beyneu (Kazakhstan).

Success after a tough job: Volkswagen factory driver Carlos Sainz and his co-driver Lucas Cruz won the fourth and at 878 kilometres the longest leg of the Silk Way Rally through Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - albeit with a razor-thin lead: At the finish Sainz/Cruz were merely 20 seconds apart from their team colleagues Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford, with whom they had fought a distant duel throughout the day.

"This was a really long day" told Carlos Sainz. "The leg was totally flat, very quick and, in some parts, very hard to cope with for the navigators. That the gaps between the members of the Volkswagen team on such a long leg are so close shows how strong our whole squad is. Tomorrow we´re in for another tough leg."

Nark Miller added: "We set a very good pace today and were clearly leading over long stretches. Unfortunately, navigating was pretty difficult and we lost some time as a result. The characteristics of the leg, particularly towards the end, reminded me of the off-road sections of the Dakar Rally."

In the overall standings, the Volkswagen pairing Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk, who suffered a bit of misfortune today, continues running in front. The leading duo lost several minutes due to a slow puncture and subsequent tyre change. They finished the leg in third place ahead of Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz.

"On the whole, I´m happy with the result because over such a long distance it´s never easy to open the course and find the right way" said Nasser Al Attiyah. "Nevertheless, we were running well until we caught a puncture and had to change the wheel. After that, we again fought a nice duel with Carlos and Lucas."

"The leg today was pretty fast to drive, for a large part on sand - a genuine cross-country marathon leg" told the South African Giniel de Villiers. "But I´m a bit disappointed with our result because we were lacking the necessary speed. When Mark overtook us, we weren´t able to follow. We´ll work on the set-up of our car till tomorrow."

The four Race Touareg vehicles arrived at the finish with a gap of just 3m 12s between them – a clear sign of the enormous balance within the Volkswagen factory team.

"Today´s leg was the first real endurance test, very long and difficult" said Motorsport-Director Kris Nissen. "It demanded the full concentration of the drivers and co-drivers for hours and seeing all four Race Touareg vehicles finish in such close succession is a tremendous result. But the day also showed that we´ve still got some potential in terms of suspension set-up. The rally provides the best opportunity to test various settings in preparation for the Dakar Rally."

Overall Standings after Leg 04, Uralsk (KZ) - Beyneu (KZ)

01) Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk (Q/D) I VW Race Touareg I 05:14:58
02) Sainz/Cruz (E/E) I VW Race Touareg I 05:13:05
03) Miller/Pitchford (USA/ZA) I VW Race Touareg I 05:13:25
04) De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) I VW Race Touareg I 05:16:17
05) Lavieille/Polato (F/F) I Nissan Navara I 05:54:11
06) Kahle/Schünemann (D/D) I Fast&Speed Buggy I 05:59:26
07) Gache/Gordon (F/F) I SMG Gache Buggy I 05:59:10
08) Errandonea/Garcin (F/F) I SMG Gache Buggy I 06:28:32
09) Misikov/Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS) I Nissan Navara I 06:22:09
10) Saukans/Zarnis (LV/LV) I OS Car I 06:17:57

2009/09/08 | 15:26 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Stefan Moser

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