“You’ve got to respect the ‘Green Hell’ or it’ll show you in its own special way to respect it,”
says Volkswagen factory driver Carlos Sainz. “And this means lap by lap, you can never lean back.”
The two-time World Rally Champion and the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring – this is both an unusual and emotional combination. The Volkswagen “Dakar” driver will contest the race on the legendary Nordschleife in the Eifel region in a Scirocco GT24 – a challenge the Spaniard is now tackling for a second time after his maiden run in 2008. Last year, he clinched second place in the ultra-competitive two-litre turbo class.
At the motorsport marathon (21 to 24 May) Sainz will share the cockpit of the petrol-powered 315-hp sport coupé that shone at its debut last year by clinching a one-two class win with the seasoned Nordschleife campaigners Dieter Depping (Wedemark), Wolfgang Kaufmann (Molsberg) and Patrick Simon (Wiesbaden). Volkswagen is fielding two Scirocco GT24 cars with natural gas and three with petrol engines in the world’s toughest circuit race. “Carlos Sainz is a red-blooded racer who always shoots for victory, and this is no different at his excursion into circuit racing,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “For years, his ‘home’ in racing has been the Dakar Rally, which shares a few similarities with the 24-hour race. The ‘Dakar’ is the toughest rally in the world, the Nordschleife the toughest race track. Both make extreme demands on the drivers.”
“El Matador” Carlos Sainz: “An unrivalled experience”
For Carlos Sainz, who is nicknamed “El Matador” by many of his fans, running in the 24-hour race means switching to a different world of motorsport in which he can fully leverage his marathon strengths. “The Nordschleife is a unique challenge,” says the Volkswagen factory driver who led the past Dakar Rally for six days and scored eight out of 13 possible stage wins. “Driving into the night or morning is an unrivalled experience.”
That is why Carlos Sainz immediately agreed to compete again on the Nordschleife after his first run in 2008. “I’ve got nothing but the fondest memories of the 24-hour race and am happy to be back,” says the 47-year-old. “The Scirocco GT24 is a racing car that is perfectly geared to the Nordschleife and provides the driver with good feedback. In addition, the Scirocco is highly competitive. That’s why – with a year of experience under my belt – my goal is clear: We – Volkswagen – want to win in our class again. And why shouldn’t my three strong team-mates and I be the ones clinching this victory?”