Volkswagen has maintained the lead with the Race Touareg 3 on the fifth leg of the Dakar Rally. In the overall standings Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) remain the front runners with an advantage of 2m 26s after the 459-kilometer leg in the north of Chile from Calama to Iquique. The stage win was secured for the first time by X-raid BMW driver Stéphane Peterhansel in front of the two Volkswagen drivers Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) and Sainz. The Frenchman thus bumped Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) from second to third place overall in the rally’s standings – a mere seven seconds separate the two duos.
As the winner of the previous day, Carlos Sainz had the difficult task of opening the leg and to leave the trails for his rivals to follow. Sainz was initially leading and then Peterhansel took the place at the front. The Frenchman extended his advantage up to 3m 45s some of the time. In the second half of the special with its extreme differences in altitude of more than 3,000 metres at the start down to sea level on the Pacific coast at the finish Al-Attiyah and Sainz made up ground again though. The gaps between the three drivers kept changing from one check point to the other by full minutes – the stage result remained open up to the finish. In the end Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk arrived 1m 24s behind stage winner Peterhansel. Sainz/Cruz were lacking 3m 15s to Peterhansel. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in another Race Touareg 3 reached the bivouac in fourth place, thus retaining fourth place overall. Their team-mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) followed by finishing the special in fifth place and improved by three places to position seven overall. At the end of the stage the drivers thrilled the fans with a spectacular 2,300-metre descent from a steep, 700-metre high dune – the famous Cerra Dragón – directly into the bivouac. On the near-32-degree steep downhill drive to the finish the cars achieved a speed of up to 220 km/h.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“Congratulations to Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret on their perfect day. Even though we’re not in front in terms of the stage result we’re more than pleased at Volkswagen. All four Race Touareg cars ran really well. It was difficult for our drivers and co-drivers to open the course today. After this long special stage three pairings continue to be in contention for victory. This is a nice, exciting and fair race. We’re concentrating on continuing to do a good job in the days ahead. The ‘Dakar’ has only started in earnest today.”
#300 – Carlos Sainz (E), 3rd place leg / 1st place overall
“This leg was extremely tough. It was difficult in terms of navigation, physically strenuous and rough on the material too. At the beginning of the special stage the roadbook wasn’t accurate enough at one particular location. Being the first car out we got lost there and Stéphane Peterhansel overtook us. About 100 kilometres later we were able to pass him again. In the last dune belt we lost some more time because we caught a motorcycle rider on a dune crest and reduced our speed a bit too much. Unfortunately, we got stuck there. But, on the whole, it was a good day for us.”
#302 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 2nd place leg / 3rd place overall
“What an incredible day. We were able to reduce our gap to our team colleague Carlos Sainz today. I think that both of us, my co-driver Timo Gottschalk and I, did a good job today – even though we got lost in an area of broken ground due to the lack of clarity in the roadbook. The final shot for the finish was absolutely crazy. According to the engineers’ data we were driving at a speed of 220 km/h there. But that’s not the only reason why I’m really happy with the Race Touareg today. It was running perfectly today despite all the things it had to put up with.”
#304 – Mark Miller (USA), 5th place leg / 7th place overall
“We had no punctures and didn’t get stuck in the sand – and still lost a lot of time today. The navigation today was extremely demanding. After we caught up with our team-mate Giniel de Villiers – who’d apparently suffered a puncture – we got lost so severely in one place that we came out on the wrong side of a riverbed. To get on course again we had to drive back a long distance. In the end we did one loop too many in the dunes – that, I suppose, explains the loss in time.”
#308 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 4th place leg / 4th place overall
“This was definitely a tough day. In the beginning the route was extremely rough and washed-out riverbeds put the material to a tough test. That’s when we suffered a puncture and didn’t change the tyre as quickly as we actually can. Our rivals took many risks today. We didn’t want to do that at the end of the stage, which had a lot of hilltop jumps, and so we lost another minute. The shot for the finish compensated the participants for a rough leg. Flat out towards the Pacific – that’s pure adrenalin.”
Standings after leg 05, Calama (RCH)–Iquique (RCH); 423/459 km SS 05/total Pos. Team Vehicle Leg 05 Total time 1 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 4h 36m 34s (3); 15h 45m 48s 2 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); BMW X3 CC; 4h 33m 19s (1) + 2m 26s 3 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 4h 34m 43s (2) + 2m 33s 4 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 4h 38m 40s (4) + 21m 20s 5 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B); BMW X3 CC; 4h 56m 42s (6) + 47m 53s 6 Orlando Terranova/Filipe Palmeiro (ARG/P); BMW X3 CC; 5h 02m 22s (7) + 58m 59s 7 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 4h 54m 01s (5) + 1h 26m 03s 8 Guilherme Spinelli/Youssef Haddad (BR/BR); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 5h 10m 23s (8) + 1h 33m 34s 9 Nani Roma/Gilles Picard (E/F); Nissan Navara; 5h 12m 41s (9) + 1h 44m 39s 10 Christian Lavieille/Jean-Michel Polato (F/F); Nissan Proto; 5h 37m 31s (11) + 2h 14m 24s