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Volkswagen stage 3 report
Three Volkswagen drivers in the top four places

Wolfsburg (04 January 2010). Volkswagen continues maintaining its hold in the group of the front runners on the third leg of the Dakar Rally: Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) and Mark
Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) with their three Race Touareg cars are ranking in positions two to four at the world's toughest desert rally. The overall lead was taken by today's stage winners Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F) from the X-raid-BMW-Team.

On the 182-kilometre special stage from La Rioja to Fiambala in Argentina the rally's level of difficulty clearly increased with scree passages, soft sand and the first high dunes: Sainz, who managed setting the second-best stage time with a driving time of 3h 01m 03s, achieved an average of just 60.315 km/h on the special. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) had to take a repair brake after an accident at the beginning of the stage and therefore dropped back.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"The Dakar Rally" started in earnest today. We knew that as of today things would be getting much more difficult. Nevertheless, we were a little surprised about how difficult it really was and how slow the average speed was on the course. With Carlos Sainz's second place in front of his team-mates we continue doing well in the race and have every reason to be optimistic."

#303 - Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place leg / 2nd place overall
"This was an extremely strenuous stage both in terms of the physical strain and driving demands, with incredibly high temperatures in the cockpit. Although we lost a little time to Stephane Peterhansel today it's important to bring the car to the finish undamaged particularly at the beginning of a 'Dakar'. Our days are still ahead."

#305 - Mark Miller (USA), 4th place leg / 4th place overall
"Actually, the stage today went well for us. We hardly lost any time in the dunes, avoided punctures and didn't get stuck at any point in time. We're very pleased with this section. Our problem, though, was the start to the special stage. There we took the wrong way right at the beginning and lost an enormous amount of time searching. We'd better not let that happen to us every day."

#306 - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 3rd place leg / 3rd place overall
"Today the 'Dakar' showed its true face to me for the first time. The leg was extremely tough and for the first time we drove in soft sand. Unfortunately, we lost time due to a puncture and got lost once. My co-driver Timo Gottschalk had to get out of the car to look for the way at a canyon. That cost some time, but there'll still be plenty of opportunities to make it up again."

#312 - Mauricio Neves (BR), 14th place leg / 10th place overall
"In terms of driving and navigating the third rally day was really tricky. We lost a bit of time because we took the wrong way at the beginning. The dune section was hard to handle because we could only drive in narrow areas at times. But all in all I'm happy because the rough days are still coming up. Even though we lost some time - everything's still possible."


Number of the day The maximum pulse rate of Nasser Al-Attiyah on the third leg of the Dakar Rally was 218 heartbeats. During the 182-kilometre special stage measurements of the driver from Qatar showed that 91 per cent of the time his heart was beating at rates between 120 and 160 per minute. For comparison: a professional footballer has a maximum pulse rate of 180 during a 90-minute match, and an average rate between 100 and 120. The heart rate is comprised of endurance pulse and - particularly in motorsport - stress-induced pulse.

Did you know that ...

... every night so-called check runs are done? As soon as the service on the Race Touareg is finished the 300-hp "Dakar" prototypes are checked again on short trips and the data logs analysed afterwards.

... the catering service of the "Dakar" organisers serves 2,500 guests every day? A total of 1.5 tons of food and 12,000 half-litre bottles of water are consumed daily.

Coming up next --

Tuesday, 05 January: 4th leg, Fiambala (RA)-Copiapo (RCH). First a climb to high altitudes and from there into the Atacama desert - besides physical fitness the Dakar Rally's first crossing of the Andes also demands the rally vehicles to be in perfect shape. With rising altitudes and decreasing air pressure the engines have less oxygen available for combustion. Only those who are perfectly prepared for these conditions have chances of clinching stage victory.



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