Dakar Rally : Volkswagen Motorsport - Leg 8
On the 29th Dakar Rally's longest special stage with a length of 589 kilometres Volkswagen further expanded its lead: The factory pairing Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany) on the eighth leg from Atar
to Tichit in Mauritania set the best time of 6.35 minutes ahead of the French Mitsubishi driver Stéphane Peterhansel. Having clinched his third stage victory, Giniel de Villiers in the Race Touareg expanded his overall advantage by 29.34 minutes to 31.13 minutes.
New runner-up on the leader board is Stéphane Peterhansel, after Carlos Sainz suffered a 1:04-hour loss due to a power steering defect, finishing the stage in seventh position. The Spaniard and his French co-driver Michel Périn dropped from second to fourth place overall behind de Villiers, Peterhansel and Luc Alphand (France/Mitsubishi). Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) in the Race Touareg sporting the livery of partners Red Bull, Castrol as well as BP/Aral finished the stage in fifth place with a 27.22-minute gap. Despite punctures and navigation errors costing the English-speaking duo valuable time, it moved up from eighth to seventh position overall.
In the evening of this so-called marathon leg regular service by the team, which travels directly to the finish of Monday's stage in Nema, is prohibited.
In Tichit drivers and co-drivers, with support from the race truck crews, have to prepare the Race Touareg prototypes for the ninth stage that will take them over a 497-kilometre distance to Nema on Monday.
Volkswagen has been continuously leading the 29th edition of the Dakar Rally with the Race Touareg 2 since the event started on 6 January, having claimed six of the eight possible stage victories so far.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Giniel and Dirk showed an outstanding performance yet again. With more than a six-and-a-half-minute advantage they won the special stage ahead of a Mitsubishi without our rival having encountered any problem that we're aware of. This is a feat we weren't able to perform on such demanding stages in the past. Carlos' loss of time is really regrettable. We'll only be able to find out the exact technical cause after the arrival of the race trucks whose crews will perform the repair. Mark had an average day on which he lost time due to tyre punctures and orientation errors. Nevertheless, he gained one position. In the overall classification, considering our 31-minute advantage over Mitsubishi, we continue having good prospects.”
#301 – Giniel de Villiers : 1st place overall
"The stage was very difficult. The first line of dunes was soft although the organisers had announced them as featuring hard ground. The second line of dunes was hard whereas the organisers had been talking about soft sand. So we stopped beforehand and deflated the tyres which cost us four minutes. Today lots of stones were hidden in the sand. 60 % of the leg was stony ground. Physically, the day was very strenuous. Despite this adversity we had an altogether good drive. Compliments to Dirk who did a great job of navigating.”
#303 – Carlos Sainz : 4th place overall
"The first 300 kilometres went well and we were already approaching Stéphane Peterhansel. Then fluid started leaking from the power steering system. We stopped and tried to repair the defect but had no chance. So we had no choice but to tackle this long leg with sheer muscle power applied to the steering wheel, which was extremely tough. I'm sad that we lost two places.”
#305 – Mark Miller : 7th place overall
"This was a really nice day in the desert with a special stage leading through a breath-taking landscape. After 17 kilometres, though, I had to change my first damaged tyre. Shortly thereafter we met Carlos, who'd gotten stuck in the sand but been able to get out on his own and just started to drive off again. We followed him for 140 kilometres. Then we hit a stone and had to change another tyre. Two minor navigation errors unfortunately cost us another five to ten minures.”