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Wolfsburg (30th December 2004) The first hurdle is cleared: The Volkswagen works team completed technical and administrative scrutineering on the 29th and 30th of December for participation in the 2005 Dakar Rally with the four Race-Touareg cars and all 23 accompanying vehicles in Barcelona under clear blue skies and temperatures around three degrees Celsius.
Motorsport Director Kris Nissen and the four work’s drivers Jutta Kleinschmidt, Juha Kankkunen, Bruno Saby and Robby Gordon are confident going into the 27th running of the world’s hardest desert rally which starts in the New Year with a prologue outside the Catalonian capital.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“I’m feeling relaxed about the forthcoming start. The employees and I have done a great deal since last year, after the ‘Dakar’ we participated in three additional rallies, completed six tests and undertook continuous development. We are well prepared. I’m particularly pleased with the composure and harmony within the team. As far as the prologue at New Year is concerned, the stage is purely a showcase event for the spectators who will be presented with a fantastic start to the rally in Barcelona. The real competition starts properly in Africa on the 3rd January.”
#310 – Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)
“Barcelona is a fabulous location to start the rally. I love this place, and in fact toured the city and enjoyed the typical Tapas the day before technical scrutineering. The people here love motorsport. The prologue on the beach will certainly be sandy. I’m hoping that the conditions for the second prologue in Granada on the 2nd January will be dry as last year the track turned into a complete mud bath due to the rain. I always feel sorry for the lovely new cars. I’ve been very active over the last few weeks. I was at a navigation event in Hanover, and whilst I was there completed a short function check with the new car.”
#313 – Juha Kankkunen (FIN)
“I’m really pleased that it’s finally going to get under way. It is my first ‘Dakar’ since my victory in 1988. However, I’m not nervous. After all I’ve been competitively involved in motorsport for 25 years and am familiar with the various challenges and different vehicles. In the meantime I feel very as one with the Volkswagen Race-Touareg. I drove the vehicle for the first time almost six months ago. Since then we have tested intensively and I competed in my first rally in Dubai.”
#307 – Bruno Saby (F)
“A lot has changed in the team since last year. The car was completely new a year ago at the 2004 Dakar Rally. Even at that time the team made a good impression, and the Volkswagen Race-Touareg was reliable from the word go. Since then both the team and car have made big steps forward, that’s why, although I’m not really an optimist, I’m looking forward to the rally. The car is much easier to drive and adapts much better to the different conditions than it did twelve months ago. However the ‘Dakar’ is long and a great many surprises lie in store – I’ve learnt this during my previous twelve starts and as a journalist. If we mount the podium on the 16th January I’d be very, very happy.”
#317 – Robby Gordon (USA)
“I’m really very anxious, as the Dakar Rally will present me with many premieres: I drive a diesel car for the first time in competition. Apart from one start at the Race of Champions in the Grand Canaries, the prologue at New Year is my first race in Europe. I have absolutely no ‘Dakar’ experience, it is my first desert rally, and I’m driving for the first time with Dirk von Zitzewitz as co-driver. I have however done my homework well by speaking to the other drivers and testing, and I’m convinced that I will learn a huge amount here. I’m already really looking forward to my first start with Volkswagen and am proud to be able to compete for Europe’s largest automobile manufacturer.”
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