Dakar : Volkswagen Motorsport - Leg 5
A double success for Volkswagen: Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz won the fifth leg of the Dakar Rally from Nequén to San Rafael, ahead of their teammates Dieter Depping / Timo Gottschalk.
South African de Villiers has
therefore improved his overall ranking in this legendary cross-country rally by one place and is now ranked second overall, 2.24 minutes behind the new rally leaders Nasser Al-Attiyah / Tina Thörner. He is now also the new leading Volkswagen driver in the field.
Dieter Depping / Timo Gottschalk were at the front of the pack for several hundred kilometres of today's leg. The route, which ranged in altitude from 400 metres to 2,300 metres above sea level, featured lots of alternating between clearly visible tracks and long sections of off-road driving, as well as an approximately 20-kilometre stretch of demanding dunes to be negotiated towards the end. The German pair eventually came second, securing their best result so far on this cross-country rallying classic.
Mark Miller / Ralph Pitchford also had reason to be pleased, coming in sixth on today's turbulent 506-kilometre-long special stage and therefore supplanting Mitsubishi driver Joan « Nani » Roma to take fourth place overall.
Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz / Michel Périn suffered a setback: after leading the rally for three days, they finished today's leg in ninth place in spite of a rollover shortly before the finishing line, and were 15.42 minutes behind the day's winners. The two-time rally world champion has therefore dropped to third place in the overall rankings and trails the front runners by 6.33 minutes.
Kris Nissen - Volkswagen Motorsport Director :
« Today was really quite eventful and ultimately turned out well for Volkswagen. The good news to balance out some bad news is that Carlos Sainz and Michel Périn suffered a rollover, but were unscathed and were able to get the vehicle back on its wheels quickly. The Race Touareg is a robust vehicle and the pair were able to soldier on to the finishing line without having lost too much time. We now have a long night ahead of us, fixing the Race Touareg up in preparation for tomorrow, but we still have all the trump cards in our hand. I'm delighted with the performances of Giniel de Villiers and Dieter Depping in their respective Race Touareg, as it demonstrates that we are more than able to compete, even in the harshest of conditions. »
N°301 - Carlos Sainz :
« The leg started well for us today. But unfortunately, we hit a rock badly around half way along the special stage, and that knocked our power steering out. We had to drive without it for 200 kilometres to the dune section of the leg. The lack of power steering meant we had to take a different line of approach – and that's when we rolled. The mechanics unfortunately now have a lot of work to do. But we are only trailing by just over six minutes, and we know that anything can happen still. »
N°305 - Giniel de Villiers :
« A successful day, all in all, which could have been even better. We took things easy at first, planning to attack more and more towards the end. This strategy paid off, but we did unfortunately damage a rim when we hit a rock that was hidden in the sand, and that cost us a bit of time. We're very happy to have won our first leg – especially as it was the most difficult leg of the « Dakar » so far. »
N°307 - Dieter Depping :
« A crazy day, with pretty much all the possible conditions that make the ‘Dakar' what it is. There were very fast stretches and there were high dunes, the likes of which I have never negotiated before. We weren't too sure whether we were taking the right line on the dunes – but we obviously did, because we ended up in second place. And we're more than happy with that. »
N°308 - Mark Miller :
« We had a few mishaps today. Things were going fairly smoothly until we caught up with Luc Alphand. We used our Sentinel, but he wouldn't let us pass. Then we experienced a flat tyre, which also involved damage to a rim, so we lost more than the usual two minutes because the wheel was stuck. But in spite of all this, we can be very happy with our result today. »