Dakar : After scrutineering in Lisbon
Ready to go for Dakar Rally: On Thursday in Lisbon, the Volkswagen factory team completed technical and administrative scrutineering for the desert classic with the four Race Touareg 2 prototypes and all 26 service and support vehicles
registered for the rally. The final roll-out was scheduled for the team a day earlier.
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen and the four Volkswagen factory team duos Mark Miller / Ralph Pitchford (USA / RSA), Carlos Sainz / Michel Périn (E / F), Ari Vatanen / Fabrizia Pons (FIN / I) and Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA / D) now look expectantly and confidently towards the near 8,000 kilometre long rally.
The “Dakar” begins on Saturday, 6 January with a 117 kilometre stage south of Lisbon and ends on 21 January in Dakar, Senegal. In 2006, Volkswagen finished second with Giniel de Villiers and in doing so celebrated the best ever position for a diesel vehicle in the rally's history.
Kris Nissen - Volkswagen Motorsport Director :
« We are ready for the 2007 Dakar Rally. We also know that we have improved. We have optimised the logistics, the drivers and co-drivers work better together and the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 has been logically developed. We've incorporated many of the drivers' and co-drivers' suggestions in the vehicles.
If we could improve our result from last year by just one position we'd really be very satisfied. »
N°301 - Giniel de Villiers :
« I'm delighted that the rally is finally going to start. The team has worked intensively over the last few months, but we also need a good portion of luck in the next two weeks. The rally will be tough, and the competition is very strong. We'll attempt to exert as much pressure as possible on our main rival Mitsubishi. Obviously the expectations are very high after our second place in 2006 – after all, everybody in the Volkswagen team wants to se a blue car in front at the end. »
N°301 - Dirk von Zitzewitz - copilote :
« We've tested intensively and competed in World Cup rallies to be well equipped for this event. I expect the pace to be very high, and the smallest mistakes will be brutally punished as a result. This is a real challenge. One of the team's strengths is that the entire team is very hungry for victory. »
N°303 - Carlos Sainz :
« This is my second ‘Dakar'. Although I have more experience in the desert now, I'm still a rookie in this sport. After having led for the first two days in 2006, I'd like to clinch a good starting position for the first African leg after the stages in Portugal.»
N°303 - Michel Périn – copilote :
« It's great to compete for such a professional and motivated team like Volkswagen. Even though there is a long list of strong competitors, my greatest rivals are myself and the desert – because it is easy for a co-driver to make mistakes. I undertook a rigorous fitness programme over the last few months. I've also worked about four hours every day on my maps to prepare myself better for the route. »
N°305 - Mark Miller :
« My goal is to win the 2007 ‘Dakar'. Our final test in Tunisia was very encouraging, the car is quicker and the suspension, brakes and engine are better. The Race Touareg 2 is a dream to drive. However, the 2007 Dakar Rally will be difficult since every good driver also sits in a good car. I'm convinced that this year's field of starters is best in the event's history. If you are going to win a ‘Dakar' then you should choose this one. I've never been so focused on a specific target as this year.»
N°305 - Ralph Pitchford – copilote :
« I make my debut with the Volkswagen Motorsport team this year. The opposition is very strong, but the competition within the team will also be exciting particularly as Volkswagen has four good drivers. I've done an intensive amount of mental preparation for this rally to be able to master the long challenge as well as possible. I'm driving with Mark Miller for the first time; I spent a lot of time in the car with him during the test. We work well together. Mark is highly motivated. I'm looking forward to the next fortnight together in the car. »
N°308 - Ari Vatanen :
« There's an electric atmosphere. The Dakar Rally is a huge event; the technical scrutineering in Lisbon was visited by huge crowds. I'm pleased that the event is about to start after the long period of preparation. I'm expecting a fantastic atmosphere during the first two Portuguese stages. There are definitely many spectators lining the route. From the sporting point of view, it's easier to lose much more than you can win in the first two days. The real ‘Dakar' starts in Morocco. »
N°308 - Fabrizia Pons – copilote :
« I can hardly wait for the start. I'm looking forward to contesting the Dakar Rally alongside Ari Vatanen for the first time. Our tactics will be to get through without problems and without tyre failures – because at the finish you should be in a good position. I feel well prepared as I've worked a great deal on maps and navigation material in the last few months. »