The triumph in South America was followed by an enthusiastic reception in Wolfsburg: The Volkswagen executive board around Chairman Prof Dr Martin Winterkorn welcomed Motorsport Director Kris Nissen and Dirk von Zitzewitz at the Group's headquarters.
weekend, the German co-driver, together with his driver Giniel de Villiers (ZA), had won the Dakar Rally with a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2. It was the first triumph of a diesel-powered car in the 30-year history of the classic rally that was staged for the first time in Argentina and Chile.
"On behalf of the Volkswagen Group and all of its employees, I extend my cordial congratulations to the drivers, co-drivers and team members on this great exploit. We all followed the Dakar Rally and the outstanding performances of the Volkswagen squad during the first weeks of January with great enthusiasm,” said Prof Dr Martin Winterkorn. "I'm particularly pleased to see that this success was achieved with TDI power. That this technology is not only extremely popular with the customers of our road-going vehicles but is increasingly clinching victories in top-calibre automobile racing is a nice reward for the development work and the innovative spirit of our engineers.”
After about 9,500 rally kilometres, a lead of barely 9 seconds separated Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz from their team-mates Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), who thus complemented the squad's one-two win.
The gap of the third-placed team, on the other hand, amounted to almost two hours. Yet again the reliability of the Race Touareg was an important step towards victory on the rough special stages through the desert and the pampas. "We prepared for the rally very intensively and deliberately did not opt for a new vehicle but relied on proven technology. Our objective was to achieve a further improvement of the Race Touareg's quality, reliability and robustness – and we were extremely successful with this strategy,” says Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development of the Volkswagen Group.
While for Dirk von Zitzewitz, who lives near Hamburg, a number of meetings with the press are on the agenda these in days, Giniel de Villiers is completing another marathon about 9,000 kilometres away, in Johannesburg. "The response in South Africa is tremendous. For days, the Dakar Rally and Volkswagen's exploit have been dominating the front pages of our daily papers,” reports the 36-year-old factory driver.