Classic navigation with road-book and compass
Perfect navigation as the key to success at the 2006 Dakar Rally: The desert classic kicks-off on 31 December with new sporting regulations, which demand, in addition to greater resilience and superior driving ability, an even
more acute sense of direction.
The driver pairings in the five Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 prototypes – Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons (D/I), Mark Miller/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D), Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F), Carlos Sainz/Andy Schulz (E/D) and Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner (RSA/S) – must navigate to a large extent without the support of satellites and rely in the first instance on the directions in the so-called "road-book” during the twenty-eighth running of the world's longest and toughest rally. As a consequence, the existing high demands made of each and every participant in the "Dakar” climb even further and lend the co-driver role even greater importance.
"Already last year the sporting regulations paved the way for even greater performance parity”, underlines Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Thanks to these changes the demands made by this rally have risen significantly once again. Therefore, even more is now expected of the five co-drivers in the Volkswagen team.”
Classic navigation with road-book and compass
In the recent past, the teams steered exactly from one predetermined control point to the next with the aid of GPS (Global Positioning System), in 2006 things are different: back to the roots. The GPS Systems provided by the organiser – only these are allowed – merely display the direction and speed. The route must therefore be covered by using the road-book. "Turn left at a partially buried tyre after 42 kilometres”, reads a typical instruction from the 150 page thick reference work. "The new regulations guarantee that navigation, as a classic element in cross country rallying, once again moves more into the limelight”, explains Andy Schulz, co-driver for Volkswagen newcomer Carlos Sainz and with two wins the most successful German "Dakar” competitor.
"You won't win the 2006 ‘Dakar' with speed alone. You really have to be careful since there are now a million ways to get lost.” To be sure that the teams cover the entire distance hidden control points must be targeted. After all: When a car passes the corresponding point within a radius of three kilometres the GPS is activated and leads the competitor towards the control point. When the teams close to within 200 metres of the point they must once again rely on the road-book and compass to find their way to the next control point. Every missed point is punished with a costly time penalty.
Speed is not everything – safety first
Time penalties are also awarded for speeding offences. For example, a severe speed limit of 50 km/h is valid in villages and towns. Speeders have no chance of escaping punishment because at the stage finish the GPS data from every car is read out. Every speeding violation is documented in the system. While a maximum speed of 150 km/h is also specified for Race-Trucks and motorbikes in open terrain, cars are unrestricted. On some dangerous sections the organisers specifies a speed limit, which is monitored just as strictly as are the limits in towns and villages. The predetermined speed-limits for support vehicles, which usually drive a different route to the rally cars, are also new. "Since the routes taken by the service crews are similar in length to those covered by the competition vehicles, it will be much more difficult to reach the stage finish on time and to prepare the vehicle maintenance”, explains Logistic boss Paco Crous of the impending challenge.
A "Dakar” without service and repairs is impossible
These new paragraphs in the regulations make the Service Crew's hard life at the world's hardest cross country rally not exactly easier. The Volkswagen Motorsport mechanics must prepare five Race Touareg prototypes for the following day between the stages – this calls for a night shift. The only consolation: The regulations allow the technicians plenty of room for manoeuvre. With the exception of the cylinder block and the spaceframe, all parts that are irreparable can be changed. Things get particularly difficult when a problem occurs during a competition stage, at this time only other participants, such as the two Volkswagen Race-Trucks, can offer assistance. Another hurdle is the so-called Marathon Stage on 12 January: At the half-way halt in Labé (RG) there is no Service Crew for the drivers to turn to for help, but only the occupants of the two Volkswagen Race-Trucks. So, even more so than on the previous days the key to success is reliability.
Press Release Volkswagen Motorsport