Rally dos Sertões, Leg 4, 21 June 2008
On the first of two marathon legs at the Rally dos Sertões across Brazil Volkswagen drivers Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) clinched first and second places overall, thus further extending their lead.
On the first stage between Niquelandia and Paranã the Race Touareg 2 powered by a 280-hp TDI diesel engine was again the quickest vehicle, achieving its fifth stage win in a row. The route over a total of 482 kilometres was the first part of a so-called marathon leg after which the teams are not permitted to service the vehicles. Therefore, for the works drivers, who have to perform any repairs which may be necessary on their own, a moderate offensive was on today’s agenda in order to avoid damage to the four-wheel-drive prototype.
The first marathon section was an acid test for man and material: In addition to drives through the jungle, the special stage included deep passages through water with pronounced bumps in the ground as well as narrow turns, which made this section the toughest of the Rally dos Sertões where the slightest driving mistake could mean the end of the race.
On Sunday the second part of the marathon leg will lead from Paranã to Palmas. Another 454 kilometres have to be completed by the before arriving at the destination, which bears its name due to its picturesque palm trees – only then are the mechanical crews allowed to resume maintenance and repair jobs. Next week another marathon leg is on the agenda of the Rally through Brazil, which will end in the northeast in Natal on the Atlantic coast on 27 June after ten legs and a total of 4,500 kilometres.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“There are always two sides to such a tough marathon leg like today’s: On the one hand, the drivers have to finish as quickly – but also as safely – as possible because a subsequent service is prohibited. Giniel de Villiers and Mark Miller delivered a one-hundred-percent performance in both respects. On the other hand, the mechanics, who have been doing a great but strenuous job at this rally so far, are getting a well-deserved break.”
#302 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 1st place (leg) / 1st place overall
“The leg today was the toughest so far during this rally, but it was a very nice one again. It was pleasant to drive even though you couldn’t afford to lose your concentration for even a second. I was able to completely rely on the instructions of my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz today, who navigated me perfectly.”
#303 – Mark Miller (USA), 2nd place (leg) / 2nd place overall
“Today’s leg was simply great and fun to drive. It was the first real jungle stage with lots of varied sections. There was a constant change between quick, medium-fast and slow passages. I like that very much. Because of the marathon leg, we weren’t able to take any big risk. We finished without any problem and – as permitted by the rules – will only change the tyres on our Race Touareg and clean the windscreen – that’s all.”
Standings after leg 4, Niquelandia (BR) – Paranã (BR); 431/482 km leg 4/total
Pos. Team, Vehicle, Leg 4, Total time
1. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 5h 37m15s (1st), 13h 12m12s
2. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 5h 37m43s (2nd), + 12m30s
3. Reinaldo Varela/Marcos Macedo (BR/BR), Mitsubishi L200, 6h 08m25s (5th), + 1h 17m38s
4. Marlon Koerich/Bruno Mega (BR/BR), Chevrolet S10, 6h 13m27s (9th), + 1h 22m47s
5. Riamburgo Ximenes/Stanger Eler (CE/CE), Wormen Sherpa, 6h 02m56s (3rd), +1h 32m45s