Dakar Rally : Volkswagen Motorsport - Leg 2
After the two European legs of the Dakar Rally Volkswagen will be starting as the leading team in Africa on Monday. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn in their Volkswagen Race Touareg celebrated their first stage victory in the 545-kilometre
special stage leading from Portimaő to Malaga, ahead of Nani Roma and Luc Alphand (both Mitsubishi). It was the second stage victory for Volkswagen following the success claimed by Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz in a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 from Team Lagos the day before, and the Race Touareg's 43rd stage victory since 2004.
The Portuguese Carlos Sousa continues to lead the rally, while Sainz improved to second place overall in this demanding special stage. Tight corners along deep abysses and difficult stretches through the mountains marked the second competition day of the 8,000-kilometre desert classic.
The runner-up in last year's "Dakar”, Giniel de Villiers, and his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz completed the Volkswagen trio at the top of the leader board after a no-risk drive that saw them finish the stage in sixth place. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford follow in position seven overall. A major loss of time was suffered by Ari Vatanen: the four-time "Dakar" winner from Finland made a driving mistake while running through water that cost him more than an hour and a half. Despite this mishap, Vatanen finished on his own strength.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
: "We've had a relatively good day today. The second stage victory of a Volkswagen is perfect, while Mitsubishi – as expected – made up some ground. Three Volkswagen cars continue as the front runners. Whereas during the first leg on soft sand intuitive driving was of the essence, the second leg in the mountains challenged the drivers at low speeds. While driving through a water passage that was handled by all the other drivers and vehicles without any problem, Ari made a mistake. Unfortunately this cost him over an hour and a half, but the rally is still long.”
#301 – Giniel de Villiers : 3rd place overall
: "This was a very big challenge. There were deep abysses galore as well as obscured bends. We were going at quite a nice pace and are happy with the result because it means we don't need to open the course in Africa. Starting with the stages in Africa, Dirk, my co-driver, will really be put to the test as well.”
#303 – Carlos Sainz : 2nd place overall
: "I'm happy about having completed the European legs in Portugal and Spain so flawlessly. The stage in the mountains was tight and twisty. It suited me very well although I wouldn't compare it with the special stages with which I'm familiar from the World Rally Championship – so I didn't necessarily have any advantage.”
#305 – Mark Miller : 7th place overall
: "The rally is huge fun already. The day was difficult and a special stage in the mountains certainly isn't my forte.”
#308 – Ari Vatanen 113th place overall
: "I made a mistake today: I went into a deep water passage too quickly, which caused water to enter the engine compartment. After that, we changed the air filter, had to check several technical details and, ultimately, finished the stage on our own strength.”