With Sainz and Vatanen
Warm-up for the Dakar Rally: The Volkswagen factory team contests the UAE Desert Challenge, the FIA Cross Country Rally World Championship finale in the United Arab Emirates between the 5 and 10 November, with two Race Touareg 2 prototypes. Carlos
Sainz/Michel Périn (Spain/France) and Volkswagen's new September signing Ari Vatanen (Finland) and his Italian co-driver Fabrizia Pons will be competing.
“The UAE Desert Challenge is the traditional dress-rehearsal for the Dakar Rally. We'll be up against the Mitsubishi factory team there, so this rally is a type of performance check,” explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “We want to give Carlos Sainz, who is more accustomed to classic rally stages after having competed so successfully in the World Rally Championship, another opportunity to drive in sand. After all, this rally is dominated by a vast sandy landscape filled with dunes. The UAE Desert Challenge represents the best opportunity for Ari Vatanen to drive the Race Touareg 2 in a competitive environment after the intensive test programme.”
Following the prologue in Dubai and the actual start in Abu Dhabi, a total of five legs covering 1,520 special-stage kilometres through the United Arab Emirate desert between 5 and 10 November are on the agenda. After a total of 2,443 kilometres the teams are expected at the finish in Dubai on Friday, 10 November.
While double Rally World Champion Carlos Sainz makes his UAE Desert Challenge debut, the four-time “Dakar” winner Ari Vatanen scored a win there in 1997. Competing alongside the Volkswagen factory team is the Portuguese Team Lagos with Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (Portugal/ Germany) in another Race Touareg 2 run by Phoenix Sport (Germany).
However, before making the journey to the United Arab Emirates another test looms for the Volkswagen squad. From 21 to 27 October the four Volkswagen factory duos of Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/ Germany), Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ South Africa and Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons will reel off more test kilometres through sand and camel grass in El Borma and Ksar Ghilane, Tunisia.
“As a result all drivers and co-drivers will have the perfect opportunity to get in tune with Race Touareg and team before the Dakar Rally, optimise procedures and to implement the latest technical developments in their car set-up,” says Kris Nissen.
Press release Volkswagen Motorsport