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Wolfsburg (04 January 2011). Volkswagen is leading the Dakar Rally after the third of 13 stages with two Race Touareg 3 cars. With a strong showing Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) improved to position two overall. The duo took the stage win on the 731-kilometre leg with a 25-second advantage over their Volkswagen team colleagues Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E).
On the route from San Miguel de Tucumán to San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina the Spaniards only needed a second-place stage result to maintain their lead. Sainz/Cruz have been the front runners since the start of the world’s toughest rally and now have an advantage of 3m 34s. The two other Volkswagen squads in the field had a good day as well. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) consolidated their fourth place overall by finishing today’s special in fifth place. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), who lost 52m 26s due to a rollover yesterday, were part of the action at the front of the field again. The feat of repairing the vehicle performed by the Volkswagen mechanics was rewarded with a sixth-place finish today.
The stage led across quick gravel passages in open terrain, through canyons and pastureland. Bushes and trees obscured the vision of the teams on the second part of the special stage which took them to the edges of the jungle. The drivers and co-drivers had to watch out for plenty of stones along the route and be careful not to damage the vehicle.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“At the moment three drivers are running in a league of their own: the two Volkswagen factory drivers Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz plus X-raid driver Stéphane Peterhansel. Giniel de Villiers is driving in a good rhythm as well. I’m particularly proud of the team performance that has made it possible for Mark Miller to clinch a nice stage result today. The whole team deserves huge praise for this feat. His car was not looking good at all after his excursion yesterday. The mechanics and technicians – including those who support the other vehicles – all joined in and lent a helping hand. This allowed us to achieve a good team result. But we also know that in view of the whole rally distance we haven’t even finished the hors d’oeuvres yet. But the taste has been very much to our liking so far.”
#300 – Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place leg / 1st place overall
“Today we had a difficult leg on our agenda. Opening the stage as the winner of the previous day was difficult because we had no tracks to go by for orientation. That’s why we decided to drive with caution. After the neutralisation distance we attacked a little more and managed to make up some of the time we lost in the first part. All in all, it was a good day – but the Dakar Rally actually just starts tomorrow in earnest, with the legs in the Atacama Desert in Chile. Nothing has been decided yet. The front runners are extremely close to each other. Just a small mistake can turn the order upside down.”
#302 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 1st place leg / 2nd place overall
“It was a good day for me and my co-driver Timo Gottschalk, who did a superb job. We were able to make up time to our team colleague Carlos Sainz in the first part of the stage but then lost some ground again in the second one. Still, we managed to clinch the stage win and this meant that I was able to make my first contribution in 2011 to the nice tradition of the Volkswagen team where every team member is treated to ice cream for a stage victory. I’m hoping there’ll be more.”
#304 – Mark Miller (USA), 6th place leg / 12th place overall
“Today was about achieving a good time in order to move forwards again into the group of front runners, and we managed to do that. It was a tough job because starting from a position relatively far at the rear was definitely no fun today. But we were able to overtake two or three cars right at the beginning. The dust, though, made it difficult to get close enough to the front. In addition, my sentinel system that is used to warn the cars in front failed in the middle of the special stage. That made things even more complicated. Considering all this, we’re more than happy with the result.”
#308 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 5th place leg / 4th place overallM
“It was one of the nicest ‘Dakar’ legs I’ve ever experienced. I think we saw a little of any scenery the world has to offer today: desert, woods, jungle. That was an incredibly fascinating landscape. In terms of our sporting performance we made a good start into the special and found a good rhythm. Unfortunately, we lost some ground again on the second part of the two stages. We’ve got to analyse why that was the case.”
Number of the day
During the various stages of the Dakar Rally the drivers and co-drivers of the Volkswagen teams will consume a total of 624 litres of isotonic drinks. For each of the legs the drivers and co-drivers have a daily six-litre supply of a sport liquid which the physiotherapists individually mix for them. On the hot stages in Argentina’s Sierras Pampeanas or Chile’s Atacama Desert permanent compensation of lost fluids is necessary. After the stages the Volkswagen crews make sure that they quickly re-hydrate.
Did you know that …
… Volkswagen since the launch of the Race Touareg programme in 2004 has prepared 20 vehicles, each of which has contested at least one Dakar Rally? The internal designations RT01 to RT05 stood for the first generation of the Race Touareg, while the name RT11 and the subsequent numbers, omitting the unlucky number 13, designate the second and third generations. At the 2011 Dakar Rally the RT22, the RT23, the RT25 and the RT26 are being fielded.
… for feeding the 2,500 people involved in the Dakar Rally on location a total of 1.5 tons of foodstuffs are processed daily by the bivouac catering crew? The food is used to prepare 2,000 breakfast meals, 1,600 lunch packs or 2,300 evening meals. In addition, the daily turnover of beverages includes 12,000 half-litre bottles of mineral water.
… the enthusiasm of the Dakar Rally fans in Argentina was boundless even on the first stages and is almost unfathomable compared with European conditions? The organiser, A.S.O. (Amaury Sport Organisation), anticipates four million spectators to turn out along the rally and service routes during the two “Dakar” weeks. And the enthusiastic cheers from the fans lining the track for several kilometres not only go to the rally racers themselves but to each and every support vehicle.
Standings after leg 03, San Miguel (RA)–San Salvador (RA); 500/731 km SS 03/total
Pos. Team Vehicle Leg 03 Total time
1 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 3h 42m 45s (2) 9h 12m 05s
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 3h 42m 20s (1) + 3m 34s
3 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); BMW X3 CC; 3h 43m 19s (3) + 4m 19s
4 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 3h 48m 13s (5) + 16m 57s
5 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B); BMW X3 CC; 3h 47m 50s (4) + 21m 49s
6 Orlando Terranova/Filipe Palmeiro (ARG/P); BMW X3 CC; 3h 52m 47s (7) + 29m 07s
7 Leonid Novitskiy/Andreas Schulz (RUS/D); BMW X3 CC; 3h 52m 47s (8) + 39m 05s
8 Guilherme Spinelli/Youssef Haddad (BR/BR); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 4h 00m 40s (9) + 48m 22s
9 Nani Roma/Gilles Picard (E/F); Nissan Navara; 4h 01m 13s (11) + 54m 53s
10 Christian Lavieille/Jean-Michel Polato (F/F); Nissan Proto; 4h 06m 28s (14) + 57m 55s
12 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 3h 51m 55s (6) + 1h 05m 53s
Coming up next …
Wednesday, 05 January: The Chilean part of this leg awaits the Volkswagen drivers and their rivals with stony sections and a desert of scree. In addition, dry riverbeds characterise the special stage on the Chilean side of the route between San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina and Calama in Chile. With its inhospitable and rough terrain it provides a foretaste of the upcoming rally days.