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Carlos Sainz & company returning to Dakar
Volkswagen has finalised its line-up
Volkswagen has now completed its squad for the 2008 Dakar Rally: three-time German Rally Champion Dieter Depping and co-driver Timo Gottschalk will drive the fourth Volkswagen factory-entered Race Touareg in the desert classic at the
start of January.

The two Germans line up alongside team mates Carlos Sainz / Michel Périn, Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz, and Mark Miller / Ralph Pitchford.

Two-time Rally World Champion Carlos Sainz has been a member of the factory Volkswagen team since June 2005. Spaniard Sainz shares the cockpit with Michel Périn, who is one of the most successful co-drivers in cross country rallying with 24 overall victories. The Frenchman has already won the Dakar three times: 1994, 1995 and 1996. He has been a member of the factory Volkswagen team since 2004.

American Mark Miller also made his factory team debut in 2005 and in his fourth Dakar rally finished fourth overall this year. In 2008, the former investment manager aims to better his result. His co-driver is South African Ralph Pitchford.

Giniel de Villiers, also from South Africa, finished second with Volkswagen in 2006. In doing so he recorded the best result for a diesel-powered vehicle in the cross-country classic. He has already recorded a brace of victories during the 2006 season together with his co-driver, 15-time German Enduro Champion Dirk von Zitzewitz, in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup.

Also, Carlos Sousa and co-driver Andy Schulz will compete in a Race Touareg prepared by the Lagos customer team.

Referring to the nominations of Depping and Gottschalk, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen said: "The signing of this German duo has enabled us to finalise the Volkswagen squad ahead of schedule. I think we have an excellent base with our strong driver/co-driver combinations for the next Dakar."

The 2008 Dakar is the third start in the cross-country rally classic for Dieter Depping after the 40-year old driver from Northern Germany participated for Volkswagen in 2003.

"I already feel extremely comfortable in the Volkswagen Race Touareg since I was in action during every test this year and was able to complete many valuable kilometres," said Depping. "My priorities in the Dakar are to make the finish, to achieve the best result possible and to support the Volkswagen team to the maximum in every aspect."

Depping worked together with Timo Gottschalk for the first time in 1998. They contested the 2007 Dakar Rally together for Volkswagen in a race truck.

"Dieter and I have known each other for years and are already a well-versed team," explained the 32-year old Berliner, who was active as co-driver for Andreas Aigner in the 2005 and 2006 World Rally Championships. "I'm relishing this new challenge. For me it's actually all about perfecting the road book based navigation."

Volkswagen is preparing for the 2008 Dakar Rally with an extensive test programme for the 290 hp five-cylinder 2.5 litre TDI diesel engine powered Race Touareg 2; recently in Tunisia, and also at selected rally events.

After the team occupied first and third positions with Carlos Sainz / Michel Périn and Carlos Sousa / Andreas Schulz in the Rallye Transiberico, the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup season opener, the next event planned is the Moroccan Rally at the end of September.

The UAE Desert Challenge, to be held in the United Arab Emirates at the end of October, is seen as warm-up for the Dakar Rally.
Source Volkswagen Motorsport

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