Wolfsburg (27 May 2004) Volkswagen will start the Moroccan Rally, run as the third round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rally Sport between the 1st and 6th June, with works drivers Jutta Kleinschmidt and Bruno Saby. It is the first competition for the newly designed Volkswagen Race-Touareg since its premiere at the Dakar Rally in January, where Bruno Saby was sixth overall and Jutta Kleinschmidt scored the first stage victory.
Both works drivers prepared for the Moroccan Rally in their new formations during a test in North Africa in May. Jutta Kleinschmidt tested the Race-Touareg together with her new British co-pilot Bobby Willis, while Bruno Saby tested for the first time with his new co-driver and French countryman Michel Périn.
“Solid competition experience stands in the foreground of the first of three additional rally events as preparation for the 2005 Dakar Rally”, explains Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “In April, during a test in France, the team tested the first phase of developments, in North Africa in May further innovations were tested in detail. The goal of our continuous test and development programme before and during competitions is to train the team under real rally conditions for the next ‘Dakar’, further develop the Race-Touareg and give our drivers and new co-drivers the opportunity to get to settle in.”
The five stages and approximately 1,500 competitive kilometres comprising the Moroccan Rally are considered to be a particular tough test in Cross-Country sport. “Depending on the route, the track is extremely rough and runs over very coarse gravel”, knows Jutta Kleinschmidt who finished the rally, held in the vicinity of the Atlas Mountains, second in the 2001 season. “Plenty of narrow tracks with hairpin bends await the competitors in the mountains, and on the open planes the tracks are rambling and faster. Either way, it is actually one the most beautiful and scenic events.”
Bruno Saby, Moroccan Rally winner in 1992 and 1993, associates extreme stress and strain for both man and machine with the North African classic. “I believe that the rally is the most brutal of all World Cup rounds. The stony ground pushes the chassis and drive train to the limit. In addition, June is one of the hottest months in Morocco. I respect the rally greatly due to its traditionally varied layout, and look forward to contesting a competition again.”
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