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Wolfsburg (6 January 2006). Volkswagen occupies third, fourth and fifth places following the Dakar Rally’s extremely tough seventh stage and remains in a promising position.
Jutta Kleinschmidt defended third overall in her Race Touareg 2 on the 521 kilometre stage from Zouerat to Atar in Mauretania by recording third fastest time behind new leader Luc Alphand and his Mitsubishi team mate Stéphane Peterhansel. The other Volkswagen works drivers suffered setbacks: Giniel de Villiers, who had taken the lead yesterday, dropped to fourth after making a navigational error. Carlos Sainz got bogged down in the dunes and is now fifth. Mark Miller lost 2:15 hours after rolling, and Bruno Saby lost almost seven hours owing to a leak in a fuel line fitting and dropped down to 22nd position overall.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“The drivers of the blue cars got off lightly today. The most important thing is that both Mark Miller and Dirk von Zitzewitz are unharmed following their accident. We saw that the Race Touareg 2 can keep the pace, but tyre failures and navigational errors cost us too much time. It’s still wide open; the gap between the cars is comparably small. The rally is far from over and remains tense.”
#301 – Bruno Saby (F), 71st place (leg) / 22nd position overall
“After 80 kilometres, we discovered a leak in a fuel line. We made a makeshift repair but the problem reoccured later. Stéphane Henrard helped us by leaving us fuel and towed us until the sand became too deep. Wwe run out of fuel 122 kilometres before the finish and waited for the Race Truck. The Truck crew were able to repair the damage and gave us some diesel.”
#303 – Jutta Kleinschmidt (D), 3rd place (leg) / 3rd position overall
“Holding onto third place after suffering three tyre failures means that we got off lightly. We didn’t only have to reduce the tyre pressures before the climbing the dunes but also had to inflate them again after as we had no more spare tyres.”
#305 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 4th place (leg) / 4th position overall “The navigation was really difficult today. We got lost, along with the two buggies in front of us, after 20 kilometres. We only got back on track again after spotting a helicopter on the horizon. We also suffered a rear left puncture.”
#307 – Carlos Sainz (E), 6th place (leg) / 5th position overall
“After 80 kilometres we ran on a flat plane in the dunes, made a small jump and got bogged down on landing. We needed 25 minutes for 20 metres, a completely new experience for me. The navigation was no problem for us.”
#309 – Mark Miller (USA), 15th place (leg) / 9th position overall
“The stage started very well but we found ourselves running on an adjacent track and then rolled over almost in slow motion on the crest of a dune. We rolled again later and had to repair the engine cooling fan.”
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