Three questions to Eduard Weidl
Separate ways: While the participants of the rally are going from Atar to Tichit on the first part of the marathon stage Sunday evening the remainder of the squad is headed for Nema, the finish of Monday's ninth stage – roughly 1,500 kilometres
away. On Sunday the service crew travels part of the distance, stopping in Kiffa. There, the vehicle engineers and technicians can always be reached via satellite telephone in the event that the rally drivers and race truck crews need any telephonic advice or assistance. At the finish of the marathon leg, apart from the drivers and co-drivers of the Volkswagen Race Touareg prototypes and the crews of the three Volkswagen race trucks (three members each), only Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen, Assistant Team Manager Jean-Bernard Vieu and regulations specialist Michael Bernard will be represented.
On Sunday the drivers will be sleeping in the bivouac instead of a hotel room for the first time. Ari Vatanen regrets his retirement on the seventh leg not only for sporting reasons. The Finn also has a special relationship to camping – for him, spending the night in a tent is like staying in a "thousand-star hotel”. In the French film "Camping” directed by Fabien Onteniente, which delighted cinema audiences in 2006 with a funny account of a holiday in a tent, Vatanen was one of the supporting actors. The four-time "Dakar” winner played himself. The popular French actor Claude Brasseur was another former "Dakar” winner featured in the film.
First total loss
In November 2003 a Race Touareg made its test debut in Morocco – Chassis RT01. In more than three years Volkswagen – in 17 rallies and numerous tests – did not lose any of the twelve vehicles built – until Ari Vatanen's car, Chassis RT16, was destroyed by fire on 12 January. All Race Touareg prototypes, factory- as well as customer-fielded cars, have been entered in a total of 48 rallies to date, with merely nine retirements having occurred. At 81.
25 percent the rally prototype powered by a TDI diesel engine has achieved a remarkable rate of finishes and high level of reliability in this rough sport.
Ari Vatanen and co-driver Fabrizia Pons flew back home via Paris on Sunday after their retirement on the seventh stage. "Unfortunately, this wasn't my ‘Dakar' but I hope that this rally will be a success for Volkswagen,” said Ari Vatanen. Fabrizia Pons added: "We'd like to come to Dakar for a victory celebration…”
Three questions to Eduard Weidl, Technical Director of Volkswagen Motorsport
What type of work was done on the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 on rest day?
"According to schedule, we changed the gearboxes, differentials, drive shafts, turbochargers and numerous smaller wearing parts such as brake linings, brake discs and hose connections as well as several electrical components. Before the rally, we established an exact schedule for these service jobs and did not have to perform any additional work.”
How long did it take the team to do this work on rest day?
"A total of 24 hours, in other words from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. The different types of jobs were divided among all the team members, ensuring that everyone got their necessary period of rest. On Saturday afternoon we took all the Race Touareg prototypes out for short test drives. All of them were running perfectly.”
The day of rest is followed immediately by the marathon stage. How has the team prepared for the two legs without regular service as far as the technical side is concerned?
"It was important to plan the intervals for changing component such that as few scheduled maintenance as possible needed to be done on the marathon day. Apart from refuelling, changing tyres and performing a check there's nothing to be done – unless something unusual happens on the leg. We discussed all the tasks precisely with the vehicle engineers and discussed the detailed work with the three race truck crews as well. We have covered all functions in the race trucks two-fold in the event that one of the trucks should not arrive in Tichit on time.”