Dakar Rally, Stage 2, 4 January 2009
Volkswagen assumed first and second positions overall with Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) after they mastered the challenging conditions on the Dakar Rally’s second stage.
Sainz took victory in the Volkswagen Race Touareg on the dusty stage between Santa Rosa and Puerto Madryn in Argentina. The Spanish-French duo staged a thrilling fight for victory on the day with the Mitsubishi pair of Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F) and won by 1:14 minutes.
Third best time was sufficient for Giniel de Villiers to improve, like his team mate, one position in the overall standings. The South African is now second 2:19 minutes off the lead. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) felt the full effect of the perils along the 237 stage kilometres, which all the Volkswagen drivers unanimously agreed to be significantly harder than yesterday’s stage and the subsequent 600 kilometre long liaison section to Puerto Madryn. They frequently had to avoid motorcyclists, twice lost their way in the dusty, hot track conditions and are now seventh overall. The demands made of Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) were even harder. After losing time due to electrical problems yesterday, they had to start behind many slower vehicles, but completed the stage so quickly with a perfectly functioning Race Touareg that eleventh best time was the result.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“A good day for Volkswagen – I can’t say it a different way. Carlos (Sainz) and Giniel (de Villiers) have given us first and second overall, every Race Touareg ran perfectly today so that I am in fact very satisfied. Also, at the first bivouac the obligatory ‘Dakar’ feeling was again apparent, every participant and team are one big family. The demands made of the driver and more specifically the co-driver were considerably greater on the second day, and for the third day we expect a completely different terrain. We aim to prepare ourselves for this as well as possible.”
#301 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place leg / 1st place overall
“The second stage was a great deal harder than the first. The motorbikes and dust caused us the most the problems. We had to drive slower behind the motorbikes, but couldn’t afford to stop otherwise we would have got bogged down in the soft ground. The first part of the stage was particularly fast. We got lost once at a difficult point. However, my co-driver Michel worked excellently under these conditions.”
#305 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 3rd place leg / 2nd place overall
“Today we had to master many tight sections full of trees. In the dense dust you are as good as running blind. In the middle section of the stage we got lost briefly and lost one or two minutes. The second stage was also particularly difficult for the co-driver, which makes the fact that we have moved up to second overall even better.”
#307 – Dieter Depping (D), 11th place leg / 26th place overall
“It was a lot of fun to attack with the Race Touareg which was running perfectly again today. Unfortunately the conditions were extremely difficult. Many slower cars started in front of us, at the end we even caught up with the motorbikes. Overtaking was only possible if the competitor in front made a mistake. The changing wind direction sometimes made the trip easier, but the wind also enveloped us in dense dust clouds often enough. The navigation along perimeter fences and through the gates of large estates was very difficult; however my co-driver Timo Gottschalk had everything well under control.”
#308 – Mark Miller (USA), 7th place leg / 7th place overall
“To be quite honest I’m disappointed. While two cars from Volkswagen have each improved by one position at the head of the field, we have dropped back. We got lost once in the difficult centre section of the stage and then unfortunately a second time towards the end. Today it was also very unpleasant to have to avoid the motorcyclist who frequently got bogged down just in front of us.”
Three question to Christoph Beck, Service Vehicle Manager
With the opening two stages of the Dakar Rally the accompanying Volkswagen armada is also on the move each day. What tasks to the individual service vehicles have within the team?
“The spectrum of the service vehicles ranges from the three Race Trucks – which deliver rapid assistance in the event of a problem – and four service trucks for tools and spare parts and additional equipment trucks and also the service Touareg and T5 vans which provide transport for the team members.”
A key subject during preparation of the cross country rally prototypes like the Race Touareg on the Dakar Rally was high altitudes. Were the service vehicles also specially prepared for crossing the Andes?
“To a large extent this wasn’t even necessary. In this respect it goes without saying that you must also be able to rely on our service vehicles. With the production-based Touareg and T5 vans the base is designed anyway for these loads, with the trucks modifications require plenty of work. However the expected power loss through the lower oxygen content in the air won’t cause any problems.”
How important are the service vehicles for a factory team like Volkswagen?
“Only the teams with a good service fleet and good mechanics can also guarantee comprehensive maintenance of the rally vehicles. In addition to pure manpower in a team, reliable vehicles for transporting man and material are also vital. Furthermore, it is the task of Race Trucks to assist the rally vehicles on the stages should problems occur. They are also the only permitted assistance during the marathon day between Copiapó and Fiambalá. So, they must not only arrive quickly at the scene but also reach the finish on each day reliably.”
Standings after stage 2, Santa Rosa (RA) – Puerto Madryn (RA); 237/837 km stage 2/total
Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Leg 2; Overall time
1. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 1h56m14s (1st); 4h34m46s
2. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 1h58m10s (3rd) + 2m19s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 1h57m28s (2nd) + 3m51s
4. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Tina Thörner (Q/S); BMW X3; 2h02m46s (9th) + 4m15s
5. Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz Senra (E/E); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 1h59m02s (4th) + 5m42s
6. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 2h00m08s (5th) + 6m21s
7. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2h02m30s (7th) + 8m20s
8. Orlando Terranova/Alain Guehennec (RA/F); BMW X3; 2h02m34s (8th) + 9m12s
9. Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B); Nissan Navara; 2h02m00s (6th) + 11m13s
10. Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA); Hummer; 2h05m38s (10th) + 21m32s
26. Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2h07m37s (11th) + 1h09m37s