Dr Markus Preuth
At the "Dakar” the drivers and co-drivers have to deliver top athletic performances in the cockpit. Howe did the Volkswagen factory drivers prepare themselves for this?
"In addition to special medical care, which is assured throughout the year, we conducted
an altitude training programme with all the teams focused on both power and concentration. In Arosa, for example, we prepared for the ‘Dakar' with climbing, mountain biking and hiking tours. I think this paid off in the teams' performances, particularly on the tough legs.”
As a team doctor, how can you tell how fit the teams are during the "Dakar”?
"When the boys come in after completing the legs, sometimes after eight hours of working at the limit, they not only look fit. Based on a fluid balance we can tell whether or not the drivers and co-drivers drank enough and help to re-hydrate them. Despite truly strenuous stages – where the drivers even had to dig themselves out of the sand at times – we have not encountered any health problems whatsoever so far. Quite the opposite is true: the drivers have always handled the strains very well.
On the medical side of the house, how do you manage to have the drivers and co-drivers recoup their energies within just a few hours – and for two weeks straight at that?
"Of course after returning from a stage the drivers and co-drivers need to get as much sleep as possible. But you can also do a lot in terms of nutrition and treatment. For example, after arriving at the bivouac the crews are immediately served pasta by our chef – to ‘refuel' on carbohydrates. In addition, there are special re-hydration drinks. Afterwards, they receive physiotherapy during which the muscles are loosened and special treatment is applied individually at various locations. In addition to the muscles, this usually involves the tendons. We also use a joints and soft tissue technique to ensure the boys are fit again the next day.”