An XXL-sized Dakar Rally: Exactly 100 days from now, the demanding title defence project will kick off for Volkswagen in Argentina and Chile. At the second Dakar Rally in South America from 02 to 16 January 2010 the Wolfsburg-based automobile manufacturer aims to repeat its historic
exploit in the same place.
At the past "Dakar”, Volkswagen had been the first manufacturer in the 30-year history of the legendary desert classic to win the automobile classification with diesel power. The logistical and technical preparation for the "Dakar” victory project is already in full swing. In terms of personnel, Volkswagen is extremely well set: With Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) and Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) in the cockpits of the factory prepared and factory fielded Race Touareg vehicles a strong driver line-up will move across the starting ramp in Buenos Aires.
"Just barely 250 days ago, we managed a historic feat by clinching the diesel-powered victory at the 2009 Dakar Rally,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. With the Race Touareg and TDI technology Volkswagen proved its technical expertise in the toughest of all competitions. But now we've got a new goal. We aim to defend the title in January 2010 and underscore that the ‘Dakar' victory was no coincidence. The next round through South America will even be tougher for the crews and the equipment. Over the next 100 days we'll leave no stone unturned to prepare for this task as best we can.”
Extreme altitudes, deep sand, towering dunes – in 2010 the "Dakar” will even be tougher
From Buenos Aires across the Andes, through the Atacama desert in the north of Chile – and back: In January 2009, the Dakar Rally's move from Africa to South America already resulted in the toughest demands ever made on the participants. The 31st Dakar Rally next January, marking the second one through Argentina and Chile, will bring a further increase of these challenges: On an anti-clockwise loop, the route from the start and finish of the gruelling desert rally raid, Buenos Aires, will run via the rally stronghold Córdoba and via La Rioja to Fiambalá – already taking the teams through demanding dune fields.
After the first crossing of the Andes from Fiambalá to Copiapó with altitudes exceeding the 4,700-metre mark above mean sea level, the centrepiece of the 2010 Dakar Rally will follow. A total of four special stages will be held between Copiapó, Antofagasta and Iquique in the infamous Atacama desert, which is considered the world's most arid desert while featuring the highest dune fields with soft sand. The rest day in Antofagasta will interrupt this four-fold desert showdown on 09 January and give the teams the opportunity to perform extensive vehicle maintenance.
Via sprint rally-typical sections to La Serena and in Chile's capital Santiago the "Dakar” route then leads back to Argentina.
From San Juan the final three special stages of the "Dakar” will be held through the legendary pampas via San Rafael and Santa Rosa.
Tight logistics schedule: material to be shipped at the end of November
The 2010 Dakar Rally also poses technical and logistical challenges for the Volkswagen factory team. As early as at the end of November the service trucks carrying the spare parts and tools as well as other equipment will be shipped from Le Havre, France, to Buenos Aires. The rally vehicles of the Volkswagen duos will follow in two separate cargo planes during the 51st calendar week.
Four starts, four wins: Volkswagen is still unbeaten in South America
The Rallye por las Pampas in 2005, the Rallye dos Sertões in 2008 and 2009, and the Dakar Rally in 2009: Volkswagen has competed in as many as four cross-country rallies on the South American continent with factory-fielded vehicles, and four times the squad around Motorsport Director Kris Nissen was victorious. At the beginning of 2009 the Dakar Rally marked the most important triumph in the brand's motorsport history.
The exploit clinched by Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz topped previous achievements in several ways. De Villiers was the first African to enter his name in the annals of this cross-country motorsport marathon's history and together both were the winners of the first "Dakar” staged on South American soil. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford completed the triumph of TDI technology a little more than eight months ago in a one-two victory. The American Mark Miller thus celebrated the best result achieved by a driver from the United States.
Each of Volkswagen's two runs in the Rallye dos Sertões through Brazil, which is considered an ideal preparation for the "Dakar”, ended in one-two victories as well. In 2008, de Villiers/von Zitzewitz as well as Miller/Pitchford finished as the two front runners, in 2009 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz and Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk followed their sporting exploits. These four pairings also formed the Volkswagen line-up at the Dakar Rally in January.
Most recently, Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz finished their preparations for the 2010 "Dakar” in competitive conditions at the inaugural round of the Silk Way Rally through Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan with a one-two-three win for Volkswagen.
In total, the Race Touareg's track record at 27 rallies reflects 36 podium finishes of which twelve were overall wins. 106 of 202 stage wins went to Wolfsburg and on 100 days Volkswagen led rallies with its Dakar prototype.