The Volkswagen drivers Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) started to the Rallye dos Sertões with a good warm-up.
Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2
At the ultra-short prologue over a two-kilometre course on the eve of the first leg at the starting location of Goiânia, the factory duos clinched the first and fourth positions in the classification for vehicles conforming to FIA Cross-Country Rally Regulations. From Wednesday, the rally will take the two Volkswagen Race Touareg vehicles through Brazil over a more than 4,500-kilometre distance.
“For Volkswagen, the prologue was a tremendous start to the rally,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “Although the first two timed kilometres are not conclusive, our Race Touaregs left a lasting impression at this nice ‘warm-up’ that was a spectacular event for the spectators. The actual competition will start with the first leg on Wednesday. We’re in for ten tough days, which we’re using to prepare ourselves for the Dakar Rally in January 2009.”
Meticulous preparation: Volkswagen team well set for “new terrain” in Brazil
Volkswagen’s début at the Rallye dos Sertões also amounts to a logistical acid test. As early as on 06 June the two Race Touareg vehicles left Germany aboard a cargo plane, on 10 June the two cross-country vehicles cleared customs in São Paulo, Brazil – the starting signal for the final technical preparations, which the team started at the local Volkswagen plant. Three days later the 280-hp diesel-powered prototypes, together with the accompanying service trucks, embarked on the roughly 1,000-kilometre trip to the starting location of Goiânia in the interior of Brazil, where they were given their starting permission at the technical scrutineering two days before the start of the rally. The rally route ends at Natal on the Atlantic coast after ten legs.
Cordial reception: Volkswagen drivers and Race Touareg are stars at the start
For the Volkswagen factory pairings, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford, the Rallye dos Sertões started with a full programme. In addition to preparations with driver briefings and the studying of maps, autograph sessions for fans were on the agenda at the starting location of Goiânia. “We received a very warm welcome in Brazil,” said co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. “The Rallye dos Sertões is the biggest Latin American cross-country rally and attracts a lot of interest among fans. We’re being received with tremendous hospitality and are pleased that the rally is starting now.”