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Three questions for Fabrice van Ertvelde
Giniel de Villiers' race engineer
As Giniel de Villiers' race engineer, you are responsible for the technical servicing of his Race Touareg. What has been the most positive thing you have learned in the first week of this "Dakar”?
"It's great to see the daily results
and to see that we have put together a great vehicle, a car that can take us to the top of the Dakar Rally. It was also great to see how Giniel and Dirk returned their cars to us in mint condition after the first six legs. They are really taking care of their vehicle and are therefore also taking care of their mechanics.”

Giniel de Villiers has got off to a good start in the "Dakar”. Does this instil the service crew and the engineers with greater confidence? Or perhaps motivate them?
"It's not so much a confidence boost, but it definitely does motivate us. When the vehicle you're responsible for wins legs and leads in the rally overall, it gives everyone who works on it quite a motivational boost. Everyone knows that concentration is a hugely important asset. But all the crew members can focus more easily when their hard work bears fruit from a competitive point of view.”

The Dakar Rally is showing its meaner side.
As a technician, can you tell what the vehicles have been through at the end of a leg simply by looking at them?
"It's pretty normal for the cars to come in with a few scratches in the paintwork and some vegetation stuck in the radiator. But other than that, there wasn't a single unusual or serious technical problem with Giniel's car on the first six legs. This is partly down to his prudent driving style, but also has something to do with the extremely high failure rates when you look at the other teams around the Volkswagen service camp. We are getting the right leg results, so the Race Touareg is obviously a fast and reliable vehicle. And the good condition it's in after the legs proves that it's also a very tough cookie.”

     Volkswagen leads with three cars at halfway point
     Sainz the clan leader
     Lopez takes his first Dakar stage win
     Gilles Picard is fine
     Retirement for Mitsubishi's Peterhansel
     Fighting towards the front in Production
     Mitsubishi's challenge down to two Racing Lancers
     Cyril Despres takes first stage victory in Dakar 2009
     Volkswagen awarded an unusual sausage licence
     Volkswagen rank second, third and fourth

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