2010 Dakar Rally, ceremonial start
300,000 fans: emotional "Dakar" beginning for Volkswagen
Volkswagen started to the Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile in front of an inspiring audience. More than 300,000 fans celebrated the title defenders Giniel de Villiers/Dirk
von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) and their Volkswagen team-mates Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) and Mauricio Neves/Clecio Maestrelli (BR/BR) in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. After the requisite drive across the starting ramp, the route took the five Race Touareg vehicles powered by TDI diesel engines to Colon where the first special stage in open terrain will start on Saturday.
The enthusiastic spectators gathered around the famous obelisk included Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Volkswagen management board member for Technical Development, and Hans-Joachim Stuck, the Volkswagen Group's motorsport representative. After this liaison leg to the first bivouac on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on New Year's Day the competition of the Dakar Rally will start the following day with the first, 251-kilometre special stage from Colon to Cordoba. On Saturday a total of 684 kilometres, including liaison stages, are on the agenda.
"The ceremonial start marks a successful, emotional and appropriate beginning for the Dakar Rally," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "The enthusiasm of the spectators for our sport is fantastic and provides everyone in the Volkswagen team with that final bit of motivation to show top performances. There's no better way to start to the new year than completing the first few 'Dakar' kilometres in the presence of such a cheering crowd before things really get serious the next day."
Coming up next --
Saturday, 02 January: 1st leg, Colon (RA)-Cordoba (RA). The Dakar Rally starts to the 2010 edition with a 251-kilometre special stage. Yet the first leg covering a total of 684 kilometres is anything but an easy warm-up: The Sierras Pampeanas put the material to the test with the route's initial mountain passages. The drivers and co-drivers are well-advised to find their rhythm from the outset in order to establish good positions for the days ahead.