Three questions to Peter Utoft
Best wishes in the desert: Carlos Sousa from Lagos Team, who was 41-years old on 16 January, only received best wishes. Co-driver Andreas Schulz was among the first to wish him a happy birthday. Ernst Moser from race team Phoenix Sport arrived
too late. "I got up extra early to wish Carlos all the best but he was already on his way to the tenth stage”, he explains. The Team Boss and Volkswagen Motorsport team members caught up with the birthday boy in the afternoon: A birthday cake awaited the seventh overall driver after finishing the tenth stage.
Nightshift for Volkswagen
After Carlos Sainz's Race Touareg 2 was towed into the bivouac at 21:45 with an engine problem, and the car driven by team mate Giniel de Villiers followed at around 23:00, the Volkswagen team faced a race against time. The timing belt in Carlos Sainz's Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 engine had jumped a tooth as a result of a defective cam-follower – the decision was made to rebuild the engine completely and replace the cylinder head. On Giniel de Villiers' car the cylinder-head was also replaced after a defective cam-follower punched through the valve cover and the escaping oil ignited on the hot turbocharger. "The fire damage in the engine bay was much worse than originally anticipated”, says Donatus Wichelhaus, Head of Engine Development at Volkswagen Motorsport. "We had to replace all the hoses and pipes for water, brake fluid, hydraulic oil and fuel and also many electrical cables.”
Break for the team
The stage Nema – Nema gave the Volkswagen Motorsport team the chance to relax a little after the rigorous night. Because the bivouac in Nema remains built-up until the morning of 17 January, the team could catch up on lost sleep during the tenth stage.
Three questions to Peter Utoft, Team-Manager Volkswagen Motorsport
What is the secret of successfully preparing and organising an event for 78 team members in the desert?
"We drafted a detail plan in advance of the Dakar Rally, from which it was apparent where every team member should be during the event and for which task they are responsible. During the rally we only adjust this plan to suit the actual events. Also, we did a great deal to increase the motivation of each team member and their personal responsibility – which we achieved. An excellent atmosphere runs throughout the entire team.”
What was the most difficult task of the 2007 Dakar Rally for you?
"Planning the stage from Tan Tan in Morocco to Zouerat in Mauritania was very complicated and required exact detailed coordination, because the accompanying armada could only start after the rally cars because of the border crossing into Mauritania. As a result, the technicians arrived in the bivouac much later than the Race Touaregs. The team were faced with a long night and an early start into the next stage from Zouerat to Atar.”
To what extent has the structure of the team changed since the 2006 Dakar Rally?
"Some of the changes in the team are the result of experience gained from the previous years. For example, we hired additional specialist in the areas of logistic and travel planning to strengthen the team. We also modified how the bivouac is built-up to make sure some of the procedures run more fluidly. We place a great deal more value on each individual team member getting sufficient sleep during this long and stressful rally to keep them fit.”