Dakar Rally : Volkswagen Motorsport - Leg 10
Volkswagen finished the tenth stage of the 29th Dakar Rally in third and fifth positions. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa), currently sixth overall in the "Dakar” and therefore now best placed Volkswagen drivers,
scored their personal best result with third positions.
On the 400 kilometre long loop through the savannah around Nema in Mauritania, the two English speaking professionals in the Race Touareg 2 were only 1:49 minutes slower than day winner Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar in a BMW. The Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka in a Mitsubishi was second.
The Volkswagen factory drivers Carlos Sainz (Spain) and Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) started a courageous fight back. Both were towed to yesterday's stage finish by Race-Trucks, losing an enormous amount of time in the process, after both cars succumbed to engine problems – the reason for both defects was a defective cam-follower in the valve train. A remarkable team effort overnight saw both cars prepared to take the start today. Carlos Sainz and his French co-driver Michel Périn started the tenth stage punctually and incredibly posted the fifth fastest time despite running in the dust clouds of their direct competitors. In the overall standings, which are still headed by the Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel in a Mitsubishi, the duo hold tenth position.
Giniel de Villiers finished 14th on the day together with his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. Because the repair work was only finished in the early hours of the morning, the duo started the stage 22 minutes late and arrived at the finish only 23m50s behind the winner. They are now twelfth overall, the Portuguese-German duo Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (Lagos-Team) remain seventh.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Things have calmed down since yesterday's situation. The team worked fantastically under difficult conditions and prepared both Giniel's and Carlos' cars perfectly. Only a whisker separated Mark Miller from claiming today's stage, but the win went to Nasser Al-Attiyah and the team managed by Sven Quandt – congratulations. Tomorrow is a little like a rest day since only a liaison stage is driven. As a consequence, the team has time to prepare the cars in peace and quiet and to recharge their own batteries. We'll continue as a close knit team towards Dakar. We aim to continue to score top results in the daily stages.”
#301 – Giniel de Villiers : 12th position overall
"We started the stage with a 22 minute delay, but are nevertheless extremely grateful to the team that we are actually still in the rally. If you take the pure stage time a result in the top-three was possible. The day was physically very hard, and on the other hand the navigation was very easy. Unfortunately, at some point or other another competitor drove completely without reason into the side of our car. It was if we were racing on a circuit…”
#303 – Carlos Sainz : 10th position overall
"My thanks to the team that prepared an excellent car for me overnight again. We drove for ages in dust today and had to overtake loads of opponents. The route was a kind of hard track winding through the middle of powder like Fech-Fech sand, lines of trees and bushes.”
#305 – Mark Miller : 6th position overall
"I drove on the limit today and took as much as the car could give. Third position is our best result to date, but it could have been more if I hadn't gone the wrong way in the set-up. The car had a little too much understeer. After 17 kilometres I overtook a buggy, and then later Jutta Kleinschmidt. The route was very unusual: Basically we drove through sand, but the middle of the track was very hard, which you had to follow exactly. It was a completely new experience for me. I still hope to be able to catch Mitsubishi on the next, very slow stage.”