Desert Challenge : Volkswagen Motorsport - Finish
A good dress rehearsal for Volkswagen for the 2007 Dakar Rally: In the UAE Desert Challenge, the final round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, Carlos Sainz (Spain) and his co-driver Michel Périn (France) clinched
three of five stage victories in the “Dakar”-specification Volkswagen Race Touareg, making them the quickest drivers of the rally.
On the first leg the Volkswagen factory drivers had taken the lead with a stage victory. On the second day they dropped back far due to a defect in the drive system. In extremely hot outside temperatures Sainz won the penultimate stage on the distances through the dunes and decided the final stage across 286 kilometres in his favour as well.
In a second Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 the Finn Ari Vatanen together with his co-driver Fabrizia Pons made his début in the Volkswagen factory team. The four-time "Dakar" winner did not contest the last stage of the desert rally after an engine problem.
In the UAE Desert Challenge the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 driven by Carlos Sainz – unlike Ari Vatanen's vehicle – was fitted with various new components for the 2007 Dakar Rally. The rally in the dune-covered regions around Dubai and Abu Dhabi offered the team the final opportunity for testing in competitive conditions with outside temperatures in the range of over 35 degrees on sandy tracks resembling those of the Dakar Rally in Mauritania.
This event concludes Volkswagen's rally and testing programme for the 2007 Dakar Rally. The Race Touareg powered by a 2.
5-litre TDI diesel engine claimed two overall and 18 stage victories in selected rally competitions during the 2006 season. In the weeks ahead the Volkswagen factory team will be concentrating on detailed planning and the completion of the competition vehicles to be fielded in the Dakar Rally, which is scheduled to start in Lisbon on 6 January.
Crowned by success was the third event contested by the Portuguese Carlos Sousa and his German co-driver Andreas Schulz in a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 of Team Lagos. The vehicle entered by the semi-works team Phoenix Sport achieved fourth place overall after five stages covering a total of 1518 kilometres.
Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place (leg) / 10th place overall
"It was a good rally, the many kilometres served as a useful preparation for the Dakar Rally. I've gained a lot of experience in the sand and am feeling increasingly comfortable on this type of ground. That's important because during the Dakar Rally some of the legs will be staged in Mauritania on sand. Here, we were able to claim three stage victories against very strong competitors. Without our small problem on the second day, a superb result would have been possible. The Race Touareg 2 features many technical improvements. I believe we're well prepared for the ‘Dakar'."
Michel Périn (F), co-driver
"I've driven three rallies with Carlos, our teamwork is great and we get on well with each other. We were able to prove this here because the UAE Desert Challenge was very difficult. When crossing the dunes, good communication is essential to keep from getting stuck in them."
Ari Vatanen (FIN), retirement
"This round was a test in competitive conditions for the Dakar Rally. It gave me a good opportunity to familiarise myself with the Race Touareg 2 and the team. Also, the chance to contest a rally again after a longer break was perfect."
Fabrizia Pons (I), co-driver
"The UAE Desert Challenge was my first rally alongside Ari Vatanen in many years, and we worked together well again straight away. Unfortunately, the round ended prematurely for us, but we feel ready for the Dakar Rally."
Carlos Sousa (P) – Team Lagos, 6th place (leg) / 4th place overall
"This was a good preparation for the Dakar Rally in January because this year all the major teams with their new vehicles were represented in the UAE Desert Challenge. I'm happy about fourth place and believe that we're thoroughly prepared for the ‘Dakar'."
Andreas Schulz (D), co-driver
"I'm very happy because we'd been shooting for fifth place and now we finished in fourth. The Race Touareg was running perfectly and the driver and co-driver's performance, as well, was 99 percent flawless."
Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
"Congratulations to Carlos Sainz and Michel Périn who showed a strong performance here. Carlos has gained a lot of additional knowledge on sand. We're satisfied with the performance of the latest-specification Race Touareg 2. When comparing the various intermediate times and stages, the vehicle fitted with the new components is on a par with those of our competitors Mitsubishi, BMW and Schlesser. Of course the entire team is disappointed that we weren't able to take part in the fight for victory all the way to the end because, after all, we're ambitious sportsmen. Nevertheless, the fact that we've achieved a successful evolution of the Race Touareg 2 is very positive. Now we're in for a few intensive weeks during which all our competition vehicles will be prepared. After that, we'll be ready for the start to the Dakar Rally in January."
Press release Volkswagen