After seven of the 14 legs of the 2010 Dakar Rally Volkswagen maintains a commanding advantage.
Three Race Touareg cars with TDI power are running in front in the overall standings before the rest day. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) are leading the world’s toughest rally with 11m 03s ahead of their team-mates Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) and 22m 06s in front of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA).
Nasser Al-Attiyah managed an outstanding feat on the seventh leg: From Iquique to Antofagasta in the Chilean Atacama desert the Volkswagen factory driver from Qatar commandingly won the 600-kilometre, and so far longest, stage. After a nail-biting duel and the lead changing many times he arrived 3m 29s earlier at the finish than Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (F/F) in the X-Raid-BMW. On the first 80 kilometres the two drivers had been snatching individual seconds from each other. For Al-Attiyah it was the second stage win after his exploit on the second day of the rally.
Carlos Sainz finished the stage that first consisted of dunes, then a surface of “salar” salt crystal blocks and, ultimately, quicker, stony sections in third place. Mark Miller took the fourth position. Last year’s winners Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) finished the stage before the rest day in sixth place after two punctures but, due to previous delays, are ranking 4h 31m behind the front runners.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“I take my hat off to our drivers, co-drivers and the Race Touareg. We mastered the longest day with a stage victory and places one to three in the overall standings. The mechanics are in for a lot of work on the rest day, while the drivers and co-drivers have a chance to recover a bit. We’re very pleased at the moment but also know that we’ve still got 50 per cent of the rally ahead of us.”
#300 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 6th place leg / 12th place overall
“Today was another one that was a little jerky for us. We took the wrong way twice and ended up in a vast scree field. That cost us time. Two punctures cost us time as well. We had to finish the last part of the special with just one spare wheel left and therefore drove with particular caution. Our mission will continue to be to support our team-mates up to the finish in Buenos Aires.”
#303 – Carlos Sainz (E), 3rd place leg / 1st place overall
“High dunes in the beginning and quick sections formed the first part of the rally day. A minor navigation error cost us a little time and that made it possible for my team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah to overtake us so shortly after the neutralisation phase. He set a fast pace and deserves having decided the stage in his favour. Remaining at the top of the standings after this hard rally day is our little victory of the day.”
#305 – Mark Miller (USA), 4th place leg / 3rd place overall
“I think that while we were driving on the exact route we were fast too. This day suited the all-rounders well. Unfortunately, we lost time due to a navigation mistake because the road-book wasn’t always easy to understand. But be that as it may: We’re running in third place at mid-point. We want to use the second ‘Dakar’ week to further improve this position.”
#306 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 1st place leg / 2nd place overall
“A really tough stage, a perfect car, an excellent co-driver and I think a good driver, too, were the combination that resulted in the stage win. The split special was anything but easy and offered a wide variety of terrain. This took some mental strength. Before the stage I made the decision to attack and managed doing a good job of that. We’re in a good position for the rest of the rally.”
Number of the day
During the first rally week all the Volkswagen factory drivers and co-drivers combined received about 49.5 hours of physical therapy. The treatments serve to regenerate and loosen the muscles that are strained on the up to 700-kilometre stages – in order to be able to send the Race Touareg crews back out on the next leg in top form.
From the Volkswagen bivouac
- Multi-cultural squad: Volkswagen team from 16 nations
The Volkswagen team at the Dakar Rally has an international composition: besides the six nations from which the drivers and co-drivers hail – Brazil, Germany, Qatar, Spain, South Africa and the USA – the service crew consists of ten additional nations. Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Turkey are represented.
- The new Amarok in an endurance test: four broom wagons required in off-road terrain
The new Volkswagen Amarok, which is manufactured in Argentina and is making a debut at the 2010 Dakar Rally, is proving its fitness for off-road use in an all-out endurance test at the desert classic. The “Dakar” organiser A.S.O. is using four of the powerful pick-ups with TDI diesel engines as so-called broom wagons that collect the participants who are forced to retire during the stages, and successfully so: The Amarok that has specifically been prepared for this extreme off-road use has passed the test of the first rally week with flying colours.
Standings after leg 07, Iquique (RCH)–Antofagasta (RCH); 600/641 km SS 07/total
Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Leg 07; Total time
1 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 5h 45m 50s (3) 26h 21m 23s
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 5h 41m 29s (1) + 11m 03s
3 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 5h 50m 09s (4) + 22m 06s
4 Guerlain Chicherit/Tina Thörner (F/S) BMW X3 CC 5h 57m 02s (5) + 2h 02m 54s
5 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F) BMW X3 CC 5h 44m 58s (2) + 2h 03m 10s
6 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B) Nissan Pick-up 6h 23m 08s (8) + 2h 20m 58s
7 Carlos Sousa/Matthieu Baumel (P/F) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer 7h 20m 44s (17) + 3h 08m 58s
8 Guilherme Spinelli/Filipe Palmeiro (BR/P) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer 6h 57m 07s (12) + 3h 23m 35s
9 Leonid Novitskiy/Andreas Schulz (RUS/D) BMW X3 CC 6h 52m 53s (11) + 4h 17m 21s
10 Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA) Hummer 8h 22m 35s (24) + 4h 25m 10s
12 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 6h 02m 51s (6) + 4h 31m 33s
Coming up next …
Saturday, 09 January: rest day, Antofagasta (RCH). On the eighth day of the Dakar Rally the rally vehicles will stop: Still, the rest day of the world’s toughest rally will provide a respite – if any – only for the drivers and co-drivers. The mechanics will perform extensive service to the vehicles in Antofagasta including in-depth checks down to the smallest detail and cleaning work. The drivers on the other hand will be in the lime-light of the media’s high interest in the event.
Sunday, 10 January: 8th leg, Antofagasta (RCH)–Copiapó (RCH). An easy re-start after the break? Not by a long shot because the “Dakar” organisers have scheduled the second-longest – 472-kilometre – special of the second rally week for the leg following the rest day. Again, a mix of sand, gravel and firm clay soil and constant changes between different types of terrain will be in store for the participants.
The Dakar Rally on TV
09 January 00:45–01:30 Eurosport Highlights, 7th leg (re-run)
08:30–09:15 Eurosport Highlights, 7th leg (re-run)
18:45–19:03 RTL RTL aktuell (evening news)
23:00–23:30 Eurosport Interim assessment
Additional reports on the news and sports programmes of channels n-tv, ARD, ZDF, DMAX and Sky (Motorvision TV).
- Volkswagen Motorsport