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Rali Transiberico 2007 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Rali Transiberico 2007, 1st round of the FIA Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Transiberico: VW shoots for repeating last year’s victory in Portugal

Home race for Carlos and Carlos: With the Spaniard Carlos Sainz and the Portuguese Carlos Sousa at the wheel, Volkswagen will be fielding two Race Touareg 2 vehicles in the Rally Transibérico. Michel Périn (France) and Andreas Schulz (Germany) will be the co-drivers in the first round of the 2007 FIA Cross-Country World Cup. The offroad rally, in which Volkswagen’s pairing of Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany) was victorious in 2006, will be run through Portugal and Spain from 31 May to 3 June.

"This is our first competition since the Dakar Rally in January," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Last year our gap to Mitsubishi in the Rally Transibérico was very small, in the end, Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz won with a narrow 25-second lead after showing a strong driving performance. We are eager to see whether our competitors have also made further strides. The two Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 cars basically feature the same level of technology as in the 2007 Dakar Rally, but we have refined certain details of the suspension, dampers and springs, which should have a positive effect on the hard and very twisty tracks in Portugal. These modifications were tested with positive results in Southern France at the end of April."

As many as five times - in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 - Volkswagen driver Carlos Sousa won the Baja Portugal, the predecessor of the Rally Transibérico. "But since 2004, I have not competed in my home race," commented Sousa, who will be driving a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 sporting the colours of Team Lagos.

"In the meantime, not only the name of the rally has changed but the route has as well. That’s why my home advantage should not be overestimated." Nevertheless - the goal of the cross-country professional, who lives in Lisbon, is clear: "I want to win. However, my strongest rivals not only include the Mitsubishi drivers but, above all, my team-mate Carlos Sainz, who showed on the first leg of the Dakar Rally that he is extremely strong on these types of tracks."

Carlos Sousa attaches particular importance to the opening stage in Mafra. "From the first metre, top performance and extreme concentration are essential because in the prologue on Thursday, 31 May, the starting positions for the first leg will be determined. It is important to finish among the top ten here as overtaking on the very narrow paths in the woods will be very difficult. In addition, a later starting position will mean limited visibility on account of thick clouds of dust," explained Sousa.

For the Spaniard Carlos Sainz, the Rally Transibérico is still new territory, although the 1990 and 1992 World Rally Champion is familiar with the classic Portuguese stages of the World Rally Championship and the first legs of the Dakar Rally on the Iberian peninsula as well as the offroad tracks of the Rally Portalegre in Portugal, where he made his cross-country rally début with Volkswagen in 2005.

"However, the route of the Transibérico is new for me," said the Spaniard. "But, last year, all cross-country rallies were new to me. I will tackle the Rally Transibérico with the same attitude, in other words highly motivated and eager to learn. In addition, the tight and twisty - and thus more classic tracks of this event - should suit me well."

Co-driver Michel Périn, as well, will be travelling for the first time to the rally’s starting location of Mafra, about half an hour’s drive west of Lisbon. Similar to Carlos Sousa, he celebrated victories in the event’s predecessor, the Baja Portugal. Périn won the round as a co-driver in 1993, 1994 and 1996. "Unlike desert rallies, the forests in Portugal not only demand pure orientation skills as
there are many orientation points like houses and roads. Here, it’s more about precisely telling the driver where to turn off and where to be cautious along the route. As the special stages are run twice, my job will be to supplement the roadbook with as much information as possible in the first run so that we will have a perfect roadbook for the second round," explained the Frenchman.

The Rally Transibérico, starting in Mafra, north west of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on 31 May, will kick off with a super special in Mafra, followed by three further special stages via Badajoz and Évora back to Estoril, where the podium ceremony will be held at 11 p.m. on 3 June. Due to the elections in Spain, the special stages will strictly take place in Portugal, although a 200-kilometre liaison leg will lead through Spain, and the finish of the special stage on day two of the rally in Badajoz will be in Spain as well.

2007/05/29 | 13:38 CET | Editor: MR/HS/VW Press

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