Three questions to Dieter Depping
The longest day: At 817 kilometres, the eleventh leg of the Dakar Rally from Tan Tan to Zouerat was the longest of all, and it turned the night into day: At five a.m. the first team members got up to warm up the engines of the four Race
Touareg diesel prototypes in preparation for the team members' departure. In the evening the factory drivers arrived at the bivouac at around 5 p.m. where no technical crew was waiting for them for a change. The reason was that the accompanying squad was only allowed to start its journey after the competition vehicles. On account of the 720-kilometre service route the service vehicles did not reach the day's destination in Mauritania until after 6 p.m.
Guests in the bivouac
On rest day (13 January) in Dakar the Volkswagen factory team will be visited by 42 VIP guests and journalists flying to Atar to meet with the squad and Volkswagen factory drivers at the Dakar Rally's halfway point. In the morning, two "meet the team” events with different groups of guests are on the agenda. In addition, the Volkswagen drivers are scheduled for a series of interviews and other sessions. "For us, the rest day is also a good opportunity to sort our baggage for the second half of the rally and to sleep a little longer,” said co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz.
No rest for technical crew
The day of rest in Atar means a small break to recharge their batteries for Volkswagen's factory drivers. The factory team's mechanics, though, are in for a long night because at the halfway point the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 prototypes are subjected to technical inspections and prepared for the seven stages before the finish in Dakar on 21 January. Furthermore, scheduled changes of the gearbox, differentials, brake disks and steering box are on the agenda as well as thorough inside and outside cleaning of the vehicles.
Three questions to Dieter Depping, driver of a race trucks in the Volkswagen team
As a three-time German Rally Champion you're making your debut in the race truck. How are you feeling at the halfway point?
"I'm surprised because I hadn't expected to be in for such a rough and bumpy ride at the wheel of a race truck. In the beginning I was having a difficult time driving through dry rivers and across heavy rocks at 20 kph – in classical rally sport this is impossible. Another new thing for me was to be driving through the dust kicked up by the other vehicles. Then, in Morocco, I had a really great duel with the truck of the Mitsubishi team. I followed it for more than 150 kilometres and waited for the perfect time to overtake it.”
How did you prepare for this rally?
"This is my first time driving a truck in a competition. Before that, during test drives in Tunisia, I drove a truck on sand and already feel very comfortable with the vehicle.”
The race trucks are seen as "blue angels”, you're allowed to rush out to help the Race Touareg 2 contenders during the competition. Have you been called yet?
"Fortunately, the four Race Touareg 2 vehicles have not needed our help yet. We merely pulled one of the race trucks of our team that had gotten stuck out of the sand. Still, we maintain a high level of concentration. Our mission is very demanding because we have to be very quick in order to deliver help swiftly, if necessary, but at the same time we must not take any risks ourselves. On the marathon leg we'll be the only service allowed on the evening of 14 January.”