The Volkswagen team that was victorious in the Dakar Rally was honoured in a manner befitting the occasion in Buenos Aires on Sunday.
Dr Horst Neumann, Giniel de Villiers
Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz drove their Race Touareg, numbered 305, onto the finish ramp through a crowd that had lined up on both sides of the road. On the ramp, the South African-German duo was officially celebrated as the winners of the “Dakar” debut in Argentina and Chile. After 14 legs and a total of about 9,500 kilometres they finished with a lead of 8m59s ahead of their team-mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), who thus gave Volkswagen a one-two victory. The automobile manufacturer from Wolfsburg made history, clinching the first diesel win in the car class in the world’s toughest rally that has been staged since 1979.
Sixth place in the field of 168 contenders who had started to the event in the car class was secured by the two Germans Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk in the third Race Touareg. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) had retired due to an accident while leading the twelfth stage. After 500,000 thrilled spectators had sent the participants off to the legendary desert classic in the heart of the Argentine capital on 2 January, another huge turnout at the finish now gave the victorious teams an enthusiastic welcome in the same way hundreds of thousands had been cheering the total of 530 participants during the rally day by day.
Dr Horst Neumann: “Top team and the art of engineering at its best”
Dr Horst Neumann, Member of the Executive Board of the Volkswagen Group with responsibility for Human Resources, was one of the first to offer congratulations, in this case of the entire Volkswagen board. “Volkswagen is proud to be standing at the very top of the podium of the Dakar Rally today! Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz as the winners and Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford as the runners-up have delivered a fantastic performance. Training and team spirit, a zest for achievement and full concentration have taken them to the pinnacle after months of preparation.”
“Behind them,” Neumann added, “is a top-calibre team to which we express our cordial congratulations and thanks as well. Its performance reflects the art of engineering at its best and – with the Race Touareg – has enabled the first ever victory of a diesel-powered vehicle in the world’s toughest rally. For many years, this team headed by Kris Nissen never let up and kept the faith in its success. Persistence and staying power pay off in the end”!
Kris Nissen: “The atmosphere in South America was overwhelming”
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen has accompanied the Race Touareg project from day one and, as the individual responsible for it, has now clinched the biggest exploit with the diesel-powered prototype for Volkswagen in the brand’s more than 40-year history. “Winning the ‘Dakar’ is difficult,” he sums up the event. “There are many unknowns, predictions beforehand are impossible – particularly since we drove in South America for the first time, so it’s all the more rewarding that Volkswagen prevailed with a one-two victory.”
Kris Nissen draws a positive conclusion regarding the premiere of the Dakar Rally on a different continent. “The organiser, A.S.O., has successfully transferred the ‘Dakar’ to South America and immediately presented an accomplished, well organised event. The atmosphere during the two weeks was overwhelming. All teams were welcomed in a manner which confirmed better than anything else that the decision to go to South America had been the right one. The environment exuded the type of flair typically found in southern countries, while the conditions on the tracks were rough, and thus worthy of a ‘Dakar.’”