Rally drivers as mountaineers: the Volkswagen squad prepared for the Dakar Rally from 3 to 18 January 2009 with a five-day fitness training camp in the Swiss Alps.
For the first time, the motorsport marathon on its route through Argentina and Chile will lead across the huge mountain ranges of the Andes – at the “Dakar” this represents a new and extreme challenge for man and material, for which the four Race Touareg pairings, Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D), Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) as well as Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D), intensively train.
“The 2009 Dakar Rally poses an enormous challenge to all participants. There’s not much experience to draw on, many things are new. We know that, among other things, the rally will lead across sections at extreme altitudes, for which we prepare as best we can,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “Our training camp in the Alps offered the drivers and co-drivers the opportunity to adjust to unusual heights while optimising their personal fitness with individual training regimes.”
In Arosa, Switzerland, surrounded by peaks with heights of up to 3,000 metres, a diverse and sweat-inducing programme – individually developed and accompanied by physiotherapists and licensed physical education instructors from the Bad Nauheim Sports Clinic – was on the agenda. “Altitude training offers the athletes several positive effects. For one, a higher, specific cardiovascular stress level is achieved, and thus an increase in performance capacity. For the other, our regime is designed to be gentle on joints and muscles,” says MD Johannes Peil, the director of the Bad Nauheim Sports Clinic
At 4000 metres: crossing the Andes with the Race Touareg at the 2009 “Dakar”
Endurance was systematically addressed by running and mountain biking activities beyond the snow line. “The training in the Alps was an important part of our physical preparation for the ‘Dakar’. During the rally we’ll be driving at altitudes of up to 4,000 metres,” says Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz. “Extreme mountains always pose a big challenge and I’m eager to cross the mighty Andes with the Race Touareg.” Climbing the “Hoernli” steep face towering above the roofs of Arosa, led by experienced mountain guides, required utmost concentration of the athletes. “Climbing was a completely new experience. At first, the mountain seems to be insurmountable, but then you accept the challenge anyhow. After reaching the peak, you’re rewarded with adrenalin and self-confidence,” says Volkswagen co-driver Timo Gottschalk. “This is the motivation with which we’ll tackle the ‘Dakar’ as well.”