Dakar Rally : Volkswagen Motorsport - Leg 5
Fourth stage victory and top-three positions overall – things are still running well for Volkswagen after five of the Rally Dakar's fifteen competitive stages. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn won the fifth stage from Ouarzazate to Tan
Tan in Morocco by 30 seconds from Mitsubishi driver Stéphane Peterhansel, and in doing so claimed their second stage victory and fourth of the rally for Volkswagen.
The Spanish-French duo increased its overall lead by more than one-and-a-half minutes on the 768 kilometre long stage. Two Volkswagen team mates fill second and third places overall behind the double Rally World Champion: Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz, third on today's stage, remain second overall. The Portuguese-German squad of Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz, in the Lagos-Team Race Touareg, defended third overall. Volkswagen leads the 29th running of the desert classic since the opening stage.
Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford and Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons finished the fifth stage in eighth and sixteenth respectively in two other blue Race Touareg prototypes sporting the Red-Bull design. The stony and dusty tracks winding through Moroccan Atlas Mountain Range passes pushed both man and machine to their limits: Both Ari Vatanen and Mark Miller suffered three punctures each.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Our drivers and co-drivers did a great job on a difficult stage in the heights of the Atlas Mountain Range, particularly as the dust made concentration more difficult. In spite of this we managed to increase our lead over Mitsubishi. Another 4,000 kilometres still lie ahead of us. It's a pity that two of our drivers each had three tyre failures. We aren't going to back off on the next stages and will remain concentrated and motivated.”
#301 – Giniel de Villiers : 2nd position overall
"We caught Jean-Louis Schlesser very quickly, but he blocked us for the best part of 100 kilometres. You really had to be very careful because the tracks were very twisty and rocky. There were a lot of cars with punctures, but we got through unscathed. I'm expecting a fast route of Thursday as well, since we still haven't encountered the typical desert stages yet.”
#303 – Carlos Sainz : 1st position overall
"That was a good day: The Race Touareg ran perfectly on the stony stage, and we weren't held up at all. To win the stage and keep the lead is obviously positive. The really tough part of the rally begins with the start of the sixth stage.”
#305 – Mark Miller : 10th position overall
"We had a day of up and downs today: At the beginning our time was very good, but then we had a couple of tyre failures within 20 kilometres of one another. So, we had to change wheels and I drove much slower. We speeded up again about 50 kilometres from the finish, only to suffer a third puncture. Since we only had three spare wheels and tyres on board I drove very cautiously to the finish.”
#308 – Ari Vatanen : 72nd position overall
"We had a tyre failure just after the start. The wheels nuts were really tight, which is why the cordless drill wasn‘t up to the job and we had to loosen them by hand. We got a couple of slow punctures later. We pumped up one of the tyres on two occasions, and the other stayed inflated till the finish. Towards the end we stopped to help a motorcyclist who had crashed and was trapped beneath his bike on the ground.”