Wolfsburg, 31. December 2004 – New Year cracker lit by Volkswagen newcomer Robby Gordon during the Dakar Rally: The US-American won the opening six kilometre stage of the desert classic, which was held on the beach at Castelldefels 20 kilometres south of Barcelona, in the Volkswagen Race-Touareg. For the Race-Touareg, which celebrated its premiere exactly one year ago, success in the curtain-raiser meant the eighth stage victory in total. Robby Gordon’s team colleagues also successfully mastered the beach stage: The Frenchman Bruno Saby occupied fourth place on the first stage, Jutta Kleinschmidt from Germany was sixth and the Finn Juha Kankkunen came home in 13th position.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“Congratulations to Robby Gordon and Dirk von Zitzewitz on their successful start! I watched the first stage from the beach and noticed just how nimble the Race-Touareg was in deep sand and also over the jumps. No matter how fantastic today’s victory is, it nevertheless says so little about the real competitiveness. Despite this success, we are not among the list of favourites for overall victory.”
#317 – Robby Gordon (USA), 1st place (leg) / 1st position overall
“A perfect debut! Obviously, to win my first ‘Dakar’ stage straightaway is fantastic. With the Race-Touareg, Volkswagen gave me an excellent and very easy car to drive, with which my co-driver Dirk and I could fly effortlessly over the jumps. I’m looking forward to the forthcoming stages.”
#307 – Bruno Saby (F), 4th place (leg) / 4th position overall
“There is a fantastic atmosphere here in Barcelona. The beach stage is obviously completely different to all the other stages that await us. My result is absolutely okay, as I had to back-off once to avoid the Philippe Gache’s stationary car.”
#310 – Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 6th place (leg) / 6th position overall
“The fans were given an incredible spectacle with the most amazing motorbike jumps. The artificial jumps were very steep for the cars, that’s why we didn’t risk anything and are therefore satisfied with sixth position.”
#313 – Juha Kankkunen (FIN), 13th place (leg) / 13th position overall
“The first six kilometres went according to plan. I took things very gently along this pure spectator stage. The Race-Touareg ran perfectly and I’m already really looking forward to the stages in Africa.”
From the Volkswagen bivouac
- Important guest: Prof. Wilfried Bockelmann – Member of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand, division Technical Development – stayed in Barcelona to see off the Volkswagen works team before the 9,039 kilometre journey to Dakar. In the afternoon, Bockelmann enjoyed the successful start on the beach in Barcelona.
- Kleinschmidt fit for desert trip: Volkswagen works driver Jutta Kleinschmidt did not undertake any special training during the last few weeks before the Dakar Rally start. “To be fit for the desert, you must do a lot throughout the entire year”, she explains. “I train regularly on my bicycle, go jogging occasionally, which both good for the stamina. In 2004 for example, I competed in the “Race across America” on my bicycle – 5,000 kilometres in eight days. I also did the “Ötztaler Cycle Marathon”: on one day 230 kilometres, but with a change in altitude of 5,500 metres and over four Alpine passes. I had to train a lot so that I could complete these events. On top of this, I do gymnastics to improve my flexibility and to build up the back and neck muscles, after all this you are fit for the Dakar.”
- New Year in Barcelona: The Volkswagen works team will greet 2005 altogether at a New Year’s party. The team consisting of 62 members and the European crew of twelve celebrate New Year’s Eve at the team hotel in Barcelona. However, there will not be a wild party: The first service vehicles head off towards Granada already early tomorrow morning, where the second stage is held on 2nd January.
Standings after stage 1, Barcelona (ES) – Barcelona (ES); 6/50 km stage/total
Vehicle, Stage 1, Total time
1. Robby Gordon/Dirk von Zitzewitz (USA/D),
Volkswagen Race-Touareg, 4.20 min. (1.), 4.20 min.
2. Hiroshi Masuoka/Andreas Schulz (J/D),
Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, 4.22 min. (2.) + 2.0 sec.
3. Giniel de Villiers/Jean-Marie Lurquin (ZA/B),
Nissan Pick-up, 4.23 min. (3.) + 3.0 sec.
4. Bruno Saby/Michel Périn (F/F),
Volkswagen Race-Touareg, 4.25 min. (4.) + 5.0 sec.
5. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F),
Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, 4.28 min. (5.) + 8.0 sec.
6. Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons (D/I),
Volkswagen Race-Touareg, 4.30 min. (6.) + 10.0 sec.
7. Ari Vatanen/Tiziano Siviero (FIN/I),
Nissan Pick-up, 4.32 min. (7.) + 12.0 sec.
8. Colin McRae/Tina Thörner (GB/S),
Nissan Pick-up, 4.34 min. (8.) + 14.0 sec.
9. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F),
Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, 4.35 min. (9.) + 15.0 sec.
10. Josep Maria Servia/Arnaud Debron (E/F),
Schlesser-Ford, 4.37 min. (10.) + 17.0 sec.
13. Juha Kankkunen/Juha Repo (FIN/FIN),
Volkswagen Race-Touareg, 4.43 min. (13.) + 23.0 sec.