DAKAR: Volkswagen maintain second with Giniel de Villiers

Wolfsburg (13 January 2006). Nail biting sprint for Dakar Rally finish line: Before the remaining 744 kilometres, Volkswagen maintains second position at the Dakar Rally with duo Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner who lie 22 minutes behind leader Luc Alphand (Mitsubishi).

On the 567 kilometre stage from Labé in Guinea to Tambacounda in Senegal, three Race Touareg prototypes in second, third and fourth positions once again underlined the potential of the Volkswagen prototype with its 275 hp TDI diesel engine. Carlos Sainz was narrowly beaten in second place ahead of Giniel de Villiers and Bruno Saby. Today saw the conclusion of the so-called marathon stage, with severely limited service back-up, run over a two-day period and over a distance of 1,439 kilometres, which all four Race Touareg prototypes still competing survived in perfect condition. The final long stage run over 634 kilometres between Tambacounda and Dakar on Saturday is tackled by the four Volkswagen works drivers Giniel de Villiers, Mark Miller, Bruno Saby and Carlos Sainz from second, fifth, eighth and eleventh places respectively. The traditional ‘showdown’ on the shores of Lac Rose follows on Sunday.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)

“Our drivers and co-drivers and our Race Touareg prototypes mastered the difficult marathon stage exceptionally well and cemented their positions for the final sprint for the finish. On today’s stage we once again demonstrated just how competitive we are by taking three positions in the top-four.”

#301 – Bruno Saby (F), 4th place (day) / 8th position overall

“Today’s stage was run almost completely off the beaten track, which required our utmost concentration. We only completed the last 50 kilometres on something resembling a road and could drive a little quicker.”

#305 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 3rd place (day) / 2nd position overall

“The stage was difficult, and the surface was very slippery in places. However, it was also very picturesque since the mountain tracks took us up to 1,000 metres. One checkpoint that we had to reach was in the middle of a thicket. Respect for Luc Alphand – he drove perfectly.”

#307 – Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place (day) / 11th position overall

“After only 30 kilometres we ran into the dust cloud of somebody in front of us, who we unable to overtake for 70 more kilometres. My racing gear is now red instead of blue from the laterite dust. We had to change the rear right wheel once after a tyre failure.”

#309 – Mark Miller (USA), 12th place (day) / 5th position overall

“We must have damaged the rear axle somewhere in the mountains. From kilometre 146 onwards the car was crabbing lightly. We found a broken toe-link, but could repair everything and made it to the finish without any further problems and stayed in fifth place.”