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– Testing of Volkswagen Race-Touareg has begun
Wolfsburg, Germany– The preparations by Volkswagen for the Dakar Rally (1 -18 January 2004) entered a decisive phase with the initial test runs of the new Race-Touareg and the completion of the driver line-up with Bruno Saby and co-driver Matthew Stevenson. Red Bull and Shell have also been confirmed as the project’s two main partners.
The Volkswagen Race-Touareg, developed at the Volkswagen design department, combines the characteristic features of the upper class all-terrain Touareg vehicle with the demands of a modern cross country car. “The target was not only to preserve the unmistakeable identity of the production car, but also to simultaneously take into account all the requirements of a competition model”, said Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “In addition to the cooling-air flow to achieve optimum temperature management and detailed solutions to assist the ease of maintenance, the aerodynamics in particular gains ever increasing importance in cross country rallying.” Following successful component tests and dynamometer runs, the Race-Touareg powered by a 2.3 litre five-cylinder TDI® engine will be subject to an intensive test programme in November. The first roll-out has already been successfully completed.
Punctually before starting the test programme, Volkswagen completed its driver line-up with the addition of two high-calibre acquisitions. The Frenchman Bruno Saby and the Briton Matthew Stevenson, will line up alongside Jutta Kleinschmidt and her co-driver Fabrizia Pons in a second Volkswagen Race-Touareg. Volkswagen has secured the services of an extremely experienced rally driver and cross country expert with the signing of Bruno Saby. The Frenchman, who was active as a works driver in the World Rally Championship for many years and celebrated victories at the Monte Carloand Corsican Rallies, switched to cross country rallying during the nineties. He won the Dakar Rally in 1993, his extensive curriculum vitae is completed by many other successes.
“With his vast experience, Bruno fits perfectly in our team”, explained Kris Nissen. “We are at the start of a complex project that demands not only a high level of technical ability, but also a precise working method from our drivers. Bruno complements Jutta Kleinschmidt perfectly. Both have already repeatedly assisted in the development of fundamentally new vehicles during their career and have underlined their abilities with victories in the Rally Dakar.”
The 54-year old Saby is already looking forward to his new assignment. “It is an enormous challenge to develop a completely new vehicle and to compete in cross country rallying with Volkswagen”, said the two-time family man from Grenoble. “I can hardly wait to get behind the wheel of the Race-Touareg. I hope that due to my experience I can assist in the project’s success.”
Matthew Stevenson will navigate for Saby during the Dakar Rally. As co-driver in cross country rallying, the Briton has already been involved in many successes. In this capacity, he won the Baja Germany alongside Luc Alphand during the 2003 season and celebrated a stage victory at the Dakar Rally. Although the 34-year old co-pilot competes for Volkswagen for the first time, he is in fact no stranger to the team. With his help, Jutta Kleinschmidt finished on the podium in third place at the Baja events in Italyand Spainin 1997.
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