Tunisia : Interview with Kris Nissen
Interview with Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. What is the situation at Volkswagen Motorsport three months after the Dakar Rally?
"In the first half of 2006 we're going to test a lot, particularly in the sand.
And in the second half of the year we're going to be contesting more rallies in order to really try out the Race Touareg and the driver pairings under the stress conditions that prevail in the competition. We know for sure that we'll be contesting the UAE Desert Challenge, the remainder of the rallies we will determine later, depending on how they fit with our testing pogramme. A ‘Dakar' vehicle must be finished no later than by September to allow it to be fully tested by the time the event starts." What conclusions have you drawn from contesting the Tunisia Rally?
"The Tunisia Rally was exactly the way we'd expected it, except for the first days when it was a bit cold. We encountered lots of sand, dunes, camel grass and extreme heat here – and that's what we'd been looking for. The Race Touareg 2 had nearly the same standing as in the Dakar Rally in January. After the Tunisia Rally we're going to test and try out several technical evolutions. We were satisfied with the Race Touareg's performance, we were among those fighting for the stage wins almost throughout the entire event and clinched three stage victories. Three Mitsubishi cars contested the Tunisia Rally and one of them made it to the finish, two Volkswagen vehicles competed in this rally, and one car finished as well.
This shows how extremely tough and demanding this rally is." What is the current state regarding the driver and co-driver constellation for the Dakar Rally 2007?
"We entered the 2006 season with two driver pairings – Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz as well as Carlos Sainz and Michel Périn. These four drivers contested the Tunisia Rally as well. We plan to continue driving this way up to the Dakar Rally but this may be subject to change in the event that we should see that these combinations are not as harmonious as we thought. At the moment, though, I see these four drivers competing together." There will definitely be more than two Race Touareg vehicles: have any plans been made yet regarding the other drivers?
"The current state in April 2006 is that we are going to be fielding four Volkswagen Race Touareg cars in the Dakar Rally. Two of the driver pairings for these cars have been determined, everything else is pending a decision."
Press Release Volkswagen Motorsport