Wolfsburg / Paris, September 2004 – The 27th Dakar Rally will start on New Year’s Day 2005, this time from Barcelona. And Volkswagen’s Marathon Rally Team will be there with the Race-Touareg again. The latest version of the rally vehicle is now being presented to the public for the first time at the Paris Motor Show.
The Race-Touaregs being used will be driven by driver-navigator teams with a degree of success behind them already. The most prominent newcomers to the Volkswagen Marathon Rally Team are four-times rally champion Juha Kankkunen, who will be contesting the 2005 Dakar Rally with co-driver Juha Repo. The two Finns will actually be driving the Race-Touareg for the first time in the finale of the FIA World Cup – the UAE Desert Challenge from 11 to 15 October in Dubai. The means that, alongside Jutta Kleinschmidt (2001) and Bruno Saby (1993), Volkswagen’s squad will include a third former winner of the Dakar Rally (1988).
The Race-Touareg in detail: Its exterior is spectacular, and its inner values are just as convincing. The Volkswagen Race-Touareg bears the name of the model family from the main series, but this is a motor sports vehicle that has been built without compromise for desert rallies. Under the leadership of Eduard Weidl, a team of Volkswagen engineers and external specialists designed the Race-Touareg. Less than seven months passed between the start of construction and the test drive of the first prototype.
The tubular space frame, which only weighs a third of a tonne, contains all the articulation points for the units, body and wheel suspension and also acts as a roll cage at the same time. High-strength aircraft steel guarantees a tensile strength of up to 700 Newton metres per square millimetre – after all, the FIA roll test covers loads corresponding to around 16.9 tonnes for a defined area. At the same time, the design also focused on achieving the lowest possible centre of gravity.
All four wheels of the Race-Touareg are guided by double wishbone axle units on the front and rear axles and each have double spring and shock absorber elements. The spring travel is limited by regulation to 250 mm. In spite of the large ground clearance, which requires a relatively high position of the lower wishbone, a kinematic suspension system has been achieved that guarantees good-natured driving properties.
The TDI technology that is so pioneering in series production is being used by Volkswagen in marathon motor sports too. Even in the 2003 Dakar Rally, the Volkswagen Tarek achieved a double victory in its class with TDI drive. The Race-Touareg is powered by an in-line five-cylinder engine. Its cylinder capacity of 2.3 litres is defined by regulations. In order to come into the category of up to 1750 kg minimum weight, the cylinder capacity may not exceed 3500 cc. With a turbo diesel engine, a factor of 1.5 has to be included – which means that the capacity may not exceed 2333 cc. An air flow limiter of 39 mm is obligatory.
Over 450 Newton metres torque is applied to the all-wheel drive via a sequential six-gear transmission supplied by X-Trac. The central differential and front and rear axle differential are designed mechanical compensating gears. Because any form of electronic control (“active differential”) is forbidden under the regulations, all three differentials have mechanical and viscose locking facilities.
The appearance of the Race-Touareg is not only striking and eye-catching – it is also completely practical. Thanks to the short overhangs, even steep driving slope angles are no obstacle. The entire body shell is made from carbon fibre and only weighs around 50 kg.
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