Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz storming the mud
Wolfsburg (26 June 2008). After the penultimate leg of the Rallye dos Sertões, Volkswagen is about to clinch a one-two victory: While Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) with their fourth-place finish defended their clear lead at this cross-country rally through Brazil in a controlled drive, their team-mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) claimed their third stage win.
Miller/Pitchford were fortunate in that a defective turbocharger could be changed shortly before the start to the special stage. Before the tenth, and final, leg Volkswagen continues to lead the rally with both vehicles: Before the last leg on Friday, de Villiers/von Zitzewitz are in first place, in front of Miller/Pitchford.
The technically selective 220-kilometre special stage between Crateús and Mossoró made high demands on driving skills: The leg led across narrow trails and through high grass as well as over stony and slippery sections. With clearly reduced speed, the contenders – after several fast legs during the past few days – again experienced a change in pace. On Friday, the Rally dos Sertões will end with the tenth and final leg between Mossoró and the finish in Natal. Among other things, the finale will challenge the drivers to master sandy ground along the Atlantic Ocean.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“That cross-country rallying is always an acid test for man and machine we saw in two different respects today. With an intelligent and controlled drive, Giniel de Villiers defended his lead without taking any unnecessary risks. Shortly before the start to the special stage, there was a turbocharger defect on Mark Miller’s Race Touareg. Something like this can always happen in such a technology-oriented sport – but it shouldn’t. We will carefully analyse what exactly happened to preclude a recurrence.”
#302 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 4th place (leg) / 1st overall
“Opening the course on this leg was anything but an advantage. In the beginning, there were extremely slow passages as well as narrow sections through high grass, where you couldn’t see if there were any sharp rocks underneath. Considering our big advantage, we considerably reduced our speed in order to not risk any damage. In this light, our special stage time wasn’t all that bad.”
#303 – Mark Miller (USA), 1st place (leg) / 2nd place overall
“What an eventful day: on the liaison leg to the start of the special stage the engine suddenly lost power, but we were assisted by the team quickly. A compliment to our mechanics, who changed the turbocharger in a very short period of time. That we subsequently won the stage shows that today was a lucky day for us after all.”
Standings after Leg 9, Crateús (BR) – Mossoró (BR); 220/520 km Leg 9/overall
Pos. Team, Fahrzeug, Leg 9, Total time
1. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 1h 52m16s (4th), 27h 57m11s
2. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 1h 49m06s (1st), + 9m30s
3. Reinaldo Varela/Marcos Macedo (BR/BR), Mitsubishi L200, 2h 04m09s (15th), + 2h30m35s
4. Joao Franciosi/Rafael Capoani (BR/BR), Mitsubishi L200, 1h 56m12s (7th), + 3h22m11s
5. Marlon Koerich/Bruno Mega (BR/BR), Chevrolet S10, 1h 54m24s (5th), + 4h18m45s