A challenging combination of familiar and new stages awaits the Volkswagen factory drivers during the 2011 Dakar Rally.
Giniel de Villiers (ZA), first “Diesel” winner of the rally in a Volkswagen Race Touareg with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) in 2009, particularly looks forward to the 2011 “Dakar”. He has special memories of the tenth stage.
The 176 kilometer long tenth stage between Copiapó in Chile and Chilecito in Argentina does not appear to be particularly long. However, after crossing the Andes towards the east the competitors are faced with a real sea of sand dunes around Fiambalá. Giniel de Villiers opened up a decisive lead on the way to victory along this difficult stage in January 2009. “Obviously I still remember this stage well,” says the South African. “Like then, the route of the twelfth stage ran from Fiambalá to La Rioja. The stage was difficult, but it went well and my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz made up a lot of time for us just before the finish when he found the fastest route while others were still searching. It was this route that effectively decided the winner of the 2009 Dakar Rally. We arrived at the stage finish almost 17 minutes ahead of the next competitors. It was a fantastic feeling!”
The so-called “white dunes” are regarded as special challenge. “The greatest difficulty is that they are so incredibly soft,” remembers the Volkswagen factory driver. “The highest temperatures of the entire rally are probably encountered there. As a result the sand is particularly soft. Sometimes it is even difficult to reach the crest of a dune because the sand is so loose. You have to consider just exactly where you will cross a dune. Furthermore, the entire stage is technically demanding, which is why the average speed is so low.” It is not only the Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 that must produce top form under such conditions. “The most important thing is to be physically fit,” emphasizes Giniel de Villiers. “I do a lot of sport before the race. If you are in top physical condition it also much easier mentally. Luckily I can train at home in South Africa before the rally, where temperatures are similar to those experienced during the Dakar Rally. This is really important.”
- Volkswagen Motorsport