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Silk Way Rally: Volkswagen trio in front at the the prologue.

A successful start to a new challenge: The “Dakar” winning team from Volkswagen successfully completed the prologue to the Silk Way Rally in front of a large audience in Kazan where the rally starts. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) won the two-kilometre show stage in front of their team-mates Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) and Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) as well as Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), who finished in seventh place.

The inaugural event of the rally follows the tracks of the legendary Silk Road through Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan across highly varied terrain – including the extremely arid Karakuma desert – and offers the four Volkswagen driver/co-driver pairings and their crews the optimum opportunity to prepare for the Dakar Rally in January 2010. The leg on Sunday will lead from Kazan, the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, across a total of 478 kilometres (141 km special stage) to Bougouruslan.

“Our preparations are finished, our team is ready to race and highly motivated to tackle the challenges of the new Silk Way Rally. The rally feels very similar to the Dakar: For the legs we’re expecting the unexpected and at the same time we can rely on the professionalism of the event. The A.S.O and the hosts have done a very good job of getting such an attractive rally off the ground. We’re very happy to take part in it,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen.

“At lot of time has passed since my last rally – that was our victory at the Dakar Rally in January. I’m very happy to start again in our Race Touareg. The prologue was a little warm-up practice and now I’m expecting a long and tough rally on terrain that is totally new to us. That’s truly a challenge and thus a good way to prepare for the new Dakar Rally,” said Giniel de Villiers.

“I can hardly wait for the first real leg. We read a lot about the routes, looked at many pictures, watched lots of videos and completed the prologue – now it’s time for the rally to really get going. I think it’ll really start getting difficult from the fourth day forward when the long special stages are on the agenda,” said Carlos Sainz.

“Sahara, Atacama and now the Karakuma desert – I’m already looking forward to the dunes at the end of the rally because they simply fit my style of driving. The more sand, the better! Discovering the traces of the famous Silk Road across which goods were transported several centuries ago is also very intriguing to me,” said Nasser Al-Attiyah.

“For me as an American, it’s a very special thing to be competing here in Russia. I grew up in the days of the Cold War and in the past it was inconceivable for me to have the chance to travel to Russia some day. It’s great getting to get to know the country and the people myself. It shows how positively the world and mutual understanding among people have changed,” said Mark Miller.

2009/09/05 | 19:35 CET | Editor: MR/VW/Rita Konya

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