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He conveys the reassuring feeling to have been pleasantly surprised – Volkswagen works driver Bruno Saby leaves no doubt as to his positive frame of mind during the Dakar Rally rest day in Bobo Dioulasso. The Frenchman describes eloquently and with warm words how he improved from twentieth position on the fifth stage to seventh position within four days with the Race-Touareg.
“The Race-Touareg has everything that distinguishes a modern design for a desert rally”, says Saby. “Our good impressions at the test in November have been confirmed here. Thanks to the data analysis we immediately made several improvements and fitted shorter gearbox ratios after the fifth stage, which proved to be very good. The concept is good, the car is very easy to drive and we still have many ideas for the future.”
In addition to the technology, the 1993 Dakar winner is also impressed by the Volkswagen team’s look. “It is indeed a remarkable team”, praises the rally driver who originates from Grenoble. “The Dakar requires fastidious preparation and was new territory for a large part of the team. The most important thing is that they accepted this challenge and learned to respect the rally. Volkswagen is the youngest newcomer to this discipline, and at the same time the Race-Touareg is the most up to date design. If one looks at the interim results and the list of retirements of our many competitors, the car looks, up to now, to be very good on its debut.”
Co-driver Matthew Stevenson has played a major role in the continuous improvement in overall position. “He is just as good a navigator as a mechanic. When a stone destroyed the left rear brake caliper he new immediately what to do to solve the problem. His contributions as co-driver are simplyperfect”, says a pleased Saby.
Six special stages and 2031 kilometres against the clock till Dakar on 18th January still lie ahead for Saby/Stevenson. “The route is not necessarily harder than in some of the previous years. But it seems very brutal, because many long stages followed one another directly. Between Wednesday and Friday another three intense days lie ahead for us. We must stay on the ball, keep our pace and avoid making mistakes”, says Saby. Would he be pleased about a victory for his fellow countryman Stéphane Peterhansel who is leading? “I admire Stéphane, who has already won the Dakar six times on a motorbike. This year we have no chance of victory ourselves, so we would also stop and help him if he found himself in an awkward situation, if it should come to this – that is the Dakar spirit. Next year however, we want to be fighting for a top finish ourselves!”
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