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Volkswagen works drivers benefit from motorbike experience
Job sharing in the cockpit replaces loner on two-wheels
What do the Volkswagen works drivers Jutta Kleinschmidt, Mark Miller and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz have in common? The three desert professionals, who compete for victory at the 2006 Dakar Rally in the Volkswagen
Race Touareg 2, were successful in motorcycling to begin with before continuing their careers on four wheels.
Jutta Kleinschmidt, who claimed the first ever podium position for a diesel powered vehicle for Volkswagen at the 2005 "Dakar”, contested the classic four times on a motorbike between 1988 and 1994 before climbing into the cockpit, and became the first, and to date, the only woman to win the most famous off-road rally in 2001. As 15-time German Enduro Champion, Dirk von Zitzewitz and the American Mark Miller, a previously successful motorbike rider competing in the American SCORE off-road series, know their way through the desert.

"Jutta Kleinschmidt, Mark Miller and Dirk von Zitzewitz benefit from the experiences they gained earlier in their careers with the motorbike. Their ability to be able to read, quite literally, the desert sand, stems from this time and their intense relationship with the desert and from the motorbike. This can be a real advantage at decisive moments”; explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen.

Job sharing in the cockpit replaces loner on two-wheels
Those who have already survived the race against time through the desert like Jutta Kleinschmidt, Dirk von Zitzewitz or overall eight-time "Dakar” winner Stéphane Peterhansel can concentrate on driving and navigating simultaneously and have learnt to motivate themselves and to overcome crises and problems completely alone hundreds of kilometres from the next tarmac road. However, perhaps this is exactly why Volkswagen team mates Mark Miller and Dirk von Zitzewitz regard their cooperation in the powerful 275 hp Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 as excellent teamwork.

"Dirk and I have known each other since 1998 when we were motorbike team mates at the Atlas Rally in Morocco”, explains Mark Miller, who competed for the first time on two-wheels in the American SCORE off-road series in 1979, drove buggies and trucks later, before coming to the Volkswagen works team in September 2005 where he is reunited with his former co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, with whom he completed his first Dakar Rally in a car in 2002. "Dirk and I know the pressure involved when driving and navigating at the same time. As a team, each one of us can now concentrate solely on one job.”

However, does the fact of knowing the partner's job in the car extremely well hide the danger of interfering? "Absolutely not, as motorcyclist I found it rather difficult to navigate myself”, confesses Mark Miller. "I know that I can trust Dirk completely, when all is said and done I do have a 15-time German Enduro Champion sharing the cockpit with me. Dirk is very demanding; he expects a lot from me and encourages me. It is a perfect partnership and real teamwork.”

The art of communication of the American-German duo, who are good friends away from the cockpit, originates from their motorbike times. "We have specific expressions to describe the landscape, track conditions and surface”, explains Dirk von Zitzewitz. "Every bump has a special term in motorcyclist language, and it goes without saying that we use this.”

Jutta Kleinschmidt: "Even today I still benefit from my motorbike experience”
"The experiences gathered as a motorcyclist in the Dakar Rally help when you compete in the event driving a car”, reports the German Jutta Kleinschmidt. She followed the desert marathon on her own initiative as tourist for the first time 1987. "I was completely hooked, I just had to be involved”, she explains. She competed in the competition a year later. "You get to know the landscape much better as a motorcyclist than from behind the steering wheel. Because, as an Enduro rider, you frequently ride standing up, have a better overview and clear view in every direction as a result”, explains the 2001 "Dakar” winner, who contested the desert classic with a motorbike before starting the rally on four-wheels for the first time in 1994.

Furthermore, the Volkswagen works driver believes that she also benefited in two other areas from her desert adventure on two wheels. "As motorcyclist you learn to ride a very clean line, which pays dividends later in a car. Thanks to navigation I also have a good sense of direction. However, because of this I found it difficult to acknowledge the co-driver's instructions during the first rallies in a car”, analyses Jutta Kleinschmidt.

Exactly like team mates Mark Miller and Dirk von Zitzewitz, the Volkswagen works driver Jutta Kleinschmidt concentrates on one goal in her fifteenth Dakar Rally: Together with their team mates Carlos Sainz, Bruno Saby and Giniel de Villiers they want to bring home the first victory for the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 at the marathon classic in 2006. To be completely fit for the 15-day desert marathon, held over 4,800 timed kilometres, Dirk von Zitzewitz not only trains on a bicycle and by jogging but actually still rides through the countryside on an Enduro machine. "Perfect preparation for a rally”, the professional co-driver from northern Germany is convinced.
Press Release Volkswagen Motorsport


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