The Race Touareg continues Volkswagen’s domination at the head of the leader board after six of the Dakar Rally’s 15 stages: The Spaniard Carlos Sainz and his French co-driver Michel Périn lead the Dakar Rally now for the fourth day in succession.
On the extremely fast stage from Tan Tan in Morocco to Zouérat in Mauritania, at 817 kilometres also the longest of the rally, Sainz recorded the fourth fastest time. Under these conditions the buggies were able to exploit their weight and power advantages granted to them by the regulations– the American Robby Gordon won from the Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser. The third fastest time went to Giniel de Villiers in a Volkswagen Race Touareg. The South African and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz clawed back 25 seconds from the overall leader and now lie second 3:11 minutes behind Sainz.
The Portuguese-German duo Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz still hold third position in the Lagos Team Race Touareg 2, who recorded the sixth fastest stage time. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) from the Volkswagen factory team completed the stage 12:38 minutes behind in ninth position and, in doing so, improved their overall position by two places to eighth on the tough stage, which saw several top teams tumble down the leader board. Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons (Finland/Italy) reached the finish in 56th place even though they could only drive their Race Touareg in second gear and after having stopped to help Guerlain Chicherit (France), who had had an accident, and after towing his BMW team mate Jutta Kleinschmidt (German) to the finish.
Standings after stage 6, Tan Tan (MA) – Zouerat (MR); 394/817 km stage 6/total
Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Stage 6; Total time
1. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 3h06m14s (4th); 16h00m04s
2. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 3h05m49s (3rd) + 3m11s
3. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 3h09m00s (7th) + 14m03s
4. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 3h09m42s (8th) + 23m55s
5. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 3h06m46s (5th) + 25m03s
6. Jean-Louis Schlesser/Arnaud Debron (F/F); Schlesser Buggy; 2h59m14s (2nd) + 28m50s
7. Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz Senra (E/E); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 3h27m29s (14th) + 37m31s
8. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 3h11m35s (9th) + 54m53s
9. Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (J/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 3h45m18s (23rd) + 1h04m23s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Alain Guehennec (QT/F); BMW X3; 3h07m21s (6th) + 1h23m32s
Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons (FIN/I); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4h56m16s (72nd) + 9h01m12s
Friday, 12 January: stage 7, Zouerat (MR) – Atar (MR): 542 km stage/580 km total. The Dakar Rally’s second longest stage is dominated by sandy sections. The rally armada crosses numerous sand dune ranges on the route from Zouerat to Atar. The drivers can expect to encounter stony tracks and sections of the feared camel grass along the 542 kilometre stage. The rally visits Atar in the evening, where the rest day coincides with the rally’s halfway point on Saturday, and to which many media representatives and VIP guests literally make a flying visit.