Dakar : Volkswagen Motorsport - Leg 8
Volkswagen started the second week of the Dakar Rally exactly the way the first half on Friday before the rest day had ended: by securing a triple stage win and maintaining its previous one-two-three lead. The day's best result was clinched
yet again by Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), who scored a fourth stage victory in the Race Touareg, thus further extending their overall lead.
On the eighth leg from Valparaíso to La Serena in Chile, which put the concentration and fitness of the drivers and co-drivers to the test on gravel tracks, like those featured in sprint rallies, and on long serpentine sections, the German Volkswagen duo Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk reached the destination in second position with a 4.02-minute gap to Sainz/Périn. Another ten seconds later, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) in the third of the Race Touareg vehicles sporting Red Bull blue followed in third place.
In fifth place, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) finished the eighth special stage but lost 10.48 minutes on the 652-kilometre leg in the dust of their rivals and due to a slow puncture. In the overall classification de Villiers is now trailing his Spanish team-mate Sainz by 10.57 minutes. Miller, with an 18.05-minute gap, continues ranking in third position. Depping advanced to eighth overall, but is almost five hours behind.
Volkswagen's best immediate rival, Mitsubishi driver Nani Roma, in fourth place overall dropped by a further 4.15 minutes to a 33.31-minute gap to Sainz.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"For Volkswagen, today's leg marked a positive beginning of the second ‘Dakar' week. After the so-called rest day all four Race Touareg vehicles were running perfectly as usual. Inspecting and working on numerous components on rest day always harbours the risk of something slipping. But the entire squad did a superb job – this is also reflected by our result of having four cars among the top five. Now, the really tough days are coming up. Tonight, we'll get together to work out a good strategy for Monday. In view of today's outcome and the resulting early starting positions, our starting base couldn't be any better.”
N°301 – Carlos Sainz
"These types of rally tracks suit me very well and I really enjoyed the day – even though I did work up a sweat with all that gravel, the many slippery stretches and countless bends. Today called for a lot of work with the steering wheel. A perfectly prepared car that gave me a lot of confidence made the whole thing quite a bit easier.”
N°305 – Giniel de Villiers
"Today had positive as well as less positive aspects. Of course at this stage of the rally each arrival at the finish is important and the good news is that we had no technical problems whatsoever, the car is running the way it should be in every respect. Unfortunately, I lost a bit of time to Carlos today because soon after the special stage started I caught Guerlain Chicherit in the BMW and Robby Gordon in the Hummer. For some 100 kilometres, I wasn't able to pass them – the track was too narrow and, unfortunately, the activation of the Sentinel produced no response by the preceding contenders. In addition, we had a slow puncture, just before the end of the special. But there's no doubt in my mind that our stages are still coming up.”
N°307 – Dieter Depping
"It's been a long time since I turned the steering wheel as much as I did today. The track today tended to be more typical of a sprint rally – with lots of gravel and plenty of bends. That really suits me well but after 200 kilometres I had to muster all my concentration to keep from making mistakes. On the physical side, today was extremely trying, so I was very happy about having air conditioning on board.”
N°308 – Mark Miller
"That was a real tap dancing act today. Feet, arms – we constantly had to move on these gravel stretches. In addition, the sections were extremely narrow and the terrain kept changing. So, today the adaptability of the driver was essential. But Ralph was put to the test in navigation as well with a few tricky places. Today our hard work in the gym prior to the rally definitely paid off.”