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Silk Way Rally: Volkswagen driver Al-Attiyah extends his lead.

With their fourth stage victory at the Silk Way Rally through Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan the Volkswagen duo Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) extended their overall lead to about five minutes. On the leg from Turkmenbashi to Balkanabad across a total of 418 kilometres they caught up with the Race Touareg of Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) who had started in front of them. Seven kilometres before the finish they suffered a puncture and arrived with a flat tyre, but still managed recovering two minutes. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) clinched third place on the rally route through the Karakuma desert that started out with fast passages but then became very twisty and thus consolidated their third place overall. The "Dakar” winners Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in their Race Tourag powered by a TDI engine delivering about 300 hp occupied fourth place.
Since the start of the inaugural rally in Kazan, Russia, the four rally prototypes from Volkswagen have been leading the overall standings. The duel between Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk and Sainz/Cruz for victory in the Orient is now entering the final phase. Saturday’s leg, which leads back to Turkmenbashi, should produce the decision since a very short special stage across 15 kilometres in the direction of Ashgabat is scheduled on Sunday.
Kris Nissen: "The four Volkswagen pairings again delivered a captivating fight for victory today. The performance of our four Race Touareg vehicles has been absolutely reliable in these tough competitive conditions, our service crew has been working flawlessly, and this gives us good reason to be very pleased. I’m confident that we’ll be able to successfully complete our ‘Dakar’ preparations at this rally.”
Giniel de Villiers: "In the first part we experienced rain in the desert – an extremely rare occurrence. Later, we encountered extremely bumpy terrain. After a jump we hit the ground hard, both rear tyres slipped off the rims and we had to change them. Because we had no additional spare wheels with us we drove very defensively. I don’t mind at all that we’ve got the chance here to sort out problems rather than having to do so at the ‘Dakar’.”
Carlos Sainz: "I’m pretty happy with our day. Being the first to go out is difficult and following others is a little easier – that’s nothing new. But we set a good pace and Lucas did a very good job of navigating. Even though Nasser and Timo have now got a comfortable advantage: The rally isn’t over yet and we’ll try and catch up with them all the way up to the end.”

Mark Miller: "Today we really tried to be as quick as Nasser and Carlos, but we didn’t quite make it – we finished third again. Particularly in the beginning the leg was very fast and then became narrow and twisty towards the end. In the rough off-road sections our pace was good, that’s where we were able to make up ground.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: "Our plan worked out: We wanted to move up to Carlos and follow him in order to make up ground in the overall classification. We managed to do that really well, unfortunately, I hit a rock seven kilometres before the finish and we again had a puncture. We decided to finish the stage which cost us less time than a tyre change would have. Tomorrow, we’ll open the course – Carlos will then be chasing us again.”

Standings after Leg 07, Turkmenbashi (TM) – Balkanabad (TM)
345,00 km/418,00 km SS 08/total
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 3h24m36s (1), 20h43m20s
2 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 3h26m36s (2), +4m56s
3 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 3h31m57s (3), +22m03s
4 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 3h36m04s (4), +28m44s
5 Ruslan Misikov/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS), Nissan, 4h12m37s (10), +4h13m06s
6 Ilya Kuznetsov/ Andrey Neshin (RUS/RUS), Mitsubishi, 4h07m35s (7), +4h49m20s
7 Maris Saukans/Didzis Zarnis (LV/LV), OSC, 4h11m11s (9) , +5h25m32s
8 Benediktas Vanagas/Saulius Jurgelenas (LT/LT), OSC, 4h03m22s (5), +5h45m46s
9 Alexey Berkut/Konstantin Meshcheryakov (RUS/RUS), Mitsubishi, 4h10m58s (8), +5h48m59s
10 Raz Heymann/Hillel Segal (ISR/ISR), Mitsubishi, 4h53m08s (13), +7h23m21s

2009/09/12 | 18:07 CET | Editor: MR/Volkswagen/Rita Konya

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