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Volkswagen well prepared for Dakar Rally
With the new Race Touareg 2
The countdown is running: in 37 days the 2006 Dakar Rally is scheduled to start at Lisbon on New Year's Eve. At the Essen Motor Show the new Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 celebrated its German debut for the desert classic.

“We want to win.
The entire squad is extremely well prepared for the ‘Dakar'," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen during a press conference. Until December 4th the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 will be showcased at the motorsport exhibition which is expected to attract roughly 400,000 visitors.

After the historical success of recording the first ever podium place for a diesel vehicle in January and winning the 2005 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup title with Bruno Saby/Michel Périn, Volkswagen starts the ‘Dakar' in top form. With the new Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, the works team enters a vehicle that has been developed in every area in this, the latest running of the desert classic, and lines up at the start with five driver-teams – the largest squad so far.

Driver squad further strengthened for desert classic
The driving squad was increased from four to five teams for the 2006 Dakar Rally: In addition to the long-serving Volkswagen duos of Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons (D/I) and the 2005 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup winners Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F), three equally competitive driver pairings were signed during the 2005 season: The South African-Swedish crew of Giniel de Villiers and Tina Thörner scored two second places for Volkswagen in the 2005 Cross Country Rally World Cup.

Two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz, with 26 wins to his credit the most successful driver in the World Rally Championship, seeks a new challenge in his ‘Dakar' debut. With two-time ‘Dakar' winner Andy Schulz alongside, he puts his trust in an experienced co-driver.

The American Mark Miller is also new to the team. His co-driver is the German Dirk von Zitzewitz, who competed alongside Robby Gordon during the 2005 Dakar Rally for Volkswagen and who has already completed the ‘Dakar' on two previous occasions together with Miller.

Volkswagen prepared intensively for the Dakar Rally by completing a comprehensive test programme and five selected cross country rallies. Furthermore, winning the World Cup title with Bruno Saby gave the team an extra dose of motivation.

“The Touareg is very reliable, we didn't have a single technical breakdown during the entire season," explains Kris Nissen. "Since the 2005 Dakar Rally we have known that the team and car have made a huge step forward. We dominated the FIA Cross Country World Cup this season and won the title two rallies before the end of the season. This is impressive, particularly when you think that we have only been involved in cross country rallying for two years.”

The successful Race Touareg was developed logically a step further
Every aspect of the extremely successful Volkswagen Race Touareg, with three victories and a World Cup title to its name, was further developed for the 2006 Dakar Rally. In particular the suspension and visibility for the driver and co-driver were optimised. The Race Touareg 2 is once again powered by a five-cylinder TDI-engine, whose power and throttle response characteristics have been measurably improved.

The Race Touareg 2
"The Race Touareg 2 is a logical development. In professional motorsport it is necessary that the cars get better and faster from year to year. There were two dominating factors for us: improving both the performance and the user friendliness, and we achieved both of these targets with the Race Touareg 2,” explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "With the Race Touareg 2 we have improved every aspect of a well-proven concept. The knowledge and experience gained from two years of desert rallying have poured into the new car.”

In it first competitive outing in October at the Rally Baja Portalegre, the new Race Touareg 2 claimed second, third and fourth positions in the hands of Volkswagen works drivers Jutta Kleinschmidt, Carlos Sainz and Bruno Saby. "The new Race Touareg 2 handles very well. The new car is much more agile, especially in tight corners. I'm convinced that we will be fighting amongst the leaders,” explains the German Jutta Kleinschmidt optimistically.

Dakar Rally starts for first time in the Portuguese capital city Lisbon
The 2006 Dakar Rally starts in Lisbon on 31 December. The route runs through Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Guinea to Senegal, where the teams are expected at the finish at Lac Rose on 15 January. With Kleinschmidt/Pons, Saby/Périn and Gordon/von Zitzewitz, Volkswagen occupied third, fifth and twelfth places respectively at the 2005 Dakar Rally. In addition, a total of four stage victories and twelve top-three finishes in the day's stages were achieved; furthermore Volkswagen drivers led the overall classification for four days.

The Dakar Rally already starts for the Volkswagen Motorsport team before Christmas. The cross country team will be cheered off at huge public event held in Wolfsburg on Sunday, 18 December.

"A part of the team then drives down to Spain, where a final roll-out is scheduled on 21 December, before heading across to Lisbon,” explains Kris Nissen. "The team returns home from Portugal to spend Christmas with their families. The entire team travels again to Lisbon to arrive in good time for technical scrutineering at the end of December.”
Press release Volkswagen Motorsport

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