Morocco : Volkswagen Motorsport - Preview
Only two and a half weeks after its victory in the Rally Transibérico - claimed by Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz - Volkswagen will contest the Rally Morocco (31 May to 5 June) with two Race Touareg 2 cars. Also competing
in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup's fourth round alongside the South-African duo will be the Spaniard Carlos Sainz and his French co-driver Michel Périn.
"Victory in the Rallye Transibérico clinched by Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz has given the entire squad a major motivation boost," comments Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "This exploit also shows that we've been working in the right direction and are fighting at the same level as Mitsubishi." For the Volkswagen Race Touareg powered by an innovative 275-hp 2.5 TDI diesel engine the success in Portugal and Spain marked the fourth victory in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup in merely 14 months. In the 2005 Morocco Rally Volkswagen had celebrated a historic triple triumph.
Morocco Rally as preparation for 2007 Dakar Rally
"Competing in the Morocco Rally marks the continuation of our development and preparation programme for the 2007 Dakar Rally," explains Kris Nissen.
"Experience has shown that the legs of the ‘Dakar' lead through Morocco as well, which means we can gather important findings there. What's more, the Morocco Rally offers another opportunity to test the Race Touareg 2 both on sand and on the hard and quick gravel roads."
After Volkswagen's clinching of the runner-up's position twice by Giniel de Villiers, in the Dakar Rally in January and the Tunisia Rally in March, as well as victory in the Rally Transibérico in April, Morocco marks the Race Touareg's fourth competition in the 2006 season.
Demanding route through the north-eastern part of Morocco
A total of six demanding legs across 1679 classified kilometres are awaiting the teams in the Morocco Rally. The fourth round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup will start at the desert oasis of Erfoud on May 31st. On 5 June the 40 participants in the car class will be expected to arrive at the finish in Ouarzazate. Besides the Volkswagen factory team, the works team of Mitsubishi will participate in the cross country rally with three vehicles, driven by Stéphane Peterhansel, Nani Roma and Hiroshi Masuoka.
For me, the Morocco Rally is nearly a ‘home game'," says Volkswagen factory driver Giniel de Villiers, who claimed a previous victory in Morocco in 2003. In the 2005 season he celebrated his start as a new member of Volkswagen's works team with the position of the runner-up in North Africa. "This time the rally will take place in the region around Ouarzazate and Erfoud. The big teams frequently test at Erfoud, that's why we're familiar with the terrain and know what to expect," comments Giniel de Villiers. "The exploit in Portugal was very nice for the whole team. But now we need to continue to concentrate and fight with the same resolve, because we want to give our best in Morocco as well."
Whereas for Volkswagen factory driver Carlos Sainz in the second Race Touareg the Morocco Rally is new territory, his co-driver Michel Périn is intimately familiar with the event. Last year, he claimed victory alongside the Frenchman Bruno Saby in the Volkswagen Race Touareg. "We're expecting a very tough rally with lots of rough stretches on rocky terrain which will take its toll on the vehicle," says the current co-driver champion in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup. "The route will probably lead us high into the foothills of the Atlas mountains. Unlike Tunisia, the share of dunes is likely to be rather small. Because the offroad portion in Morocco is relatively minor, this should be suiting Carlos very well. After the incident of rolling over in Tunisia Carlos and I are back in top shape again and highly motivated."
Press Release Volkswagen Motorsport