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Transiberico: De Villiers wins Transiberico with 24 seconds

"A marvellous day for Volkswagen and the entire team, the squad worked extremely hard during the Dakar Rally and afterwards to improve the Volkswagen Race Touareg even further still" said Volkswagen´s Motorsport Director Kris Nissen after the last leg of the Rally Transiberico in Portugal and Spain. "We knew that we could win and we’ve done it. The team and obviously Giniel and Dirk deserve this win."

The Rally Transibérico was capped with the first victory for Volkswagen factory driver Giniel de Villiers and his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz in the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2. The South African-German duo staged a thrilling duel with Mitsubishi driver Nani Roma (Spain) through Portugal and Spain during round three of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup. On the final 336 kilometre long run from Cáceres in Spain to Estoril in Portugal Giniel de Villiers headed into the final three 112 kilometre stages with a 25 second deficit. On the final stage de Villiers/von Zitzewitz were one minute faster and reached the finish line with an advantage of 24 seconds after a total of 1273 stage kilometres. Dakar winner Luc Alphand (Mitsubishi) crossed the finish line 15 minutes behind in third place.

"I’m over the moon" said the South-African driver, "It was a very exciting rally and I pushed right to the end. On the final stage we swiped a tree and lost a few seconds, afterwards we pushed even harder. A big thank you goes to my co-driver Dirk and the entire Volkswagen Motorsport team. Our Race Touareg was simply perfect."

The 34-year old Giniel de Villiers, who had already scored a brace of second places at the Dakar Rally in January and at the Tunisian Rally in May, recorded the fastest time together with his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz on three of the seven stages and claimed two out of a possible four leg victories.

For the powerful 275 hp 2.5 litre TDI Diesel powered Race Touareg it was the fourth overall victory within the last 14 months and from a total of 13 rallies. The records show 33 stage victories and 15 podium finishes for the prototypes.

The six-time German Rally Champion Matthias Kahle finished fourth on his debut with the Volkswagen factory team. During his first competition with co-driver Andreas Schulz, who had made his debut for the Volkswagen factory team alongside Carlos Sainz in the Dakar Rally, Kahle constantly improved his times. However, the German lost sight of a podium position on the third stage after he hit a stone and damaged the front right-hand tyre and steering track-rod and lost about 20 minutes after making repairs ‘en route’.

The new German driver Matthias Kahle told: "Congratulations to Giniel! I’m delighted that I had the opportunity to get to know the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 and the team in competition. Throughout the course of the rally I gradually gained confidence in the car and improved our times from day to day. We drove more kilometres here than in a complete German rally season. I’m still annoyed that I hit a stone on the third day and lost so much time. Since I originate from classic rallying and I competed in only my fourth Cross Country rally here I still find it difficult to read the lie of the land. In contrast, working together with my co-driver Andy Schulz functioned perfectly from the off."

"Matthias and myself worked extremely well together in the cockpit" said Andreas Schulz, Codriver of Matthias Kahle. "It was great that we were able to improve our performance throughout the rally. At the end of the third stage we were very quick, even though we started very late and had to drive for a long time in dust clouds. Since we had a large cushion to both the car in front and behind us we didn’t take many risks in the three stages on the final leg."

2006/05/15 I 20:55 CET I Editor:

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