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Wolfsburg. Volkswagen is undertaking intensive preparations for the forthcoming Cross Country season and the Dakar Rally (01-18 January 2004). The former Dakar winner Jutta Kleinschmidt and her co-pilot Fabrizia Pons will drive a Volkswagen Race Touareg, which is prepared in line with the prototype regulations. This development project, which Motorsport Director Kris Nissen is energetically pushing ahead with, will be coordinated as of now by the new Cross Country Centre (CCC).
Volkswagen has successfully completed an important phase of preparation three months before the world’s most famous marathon event, the Dakar Rally in January 2004: The preliminary dynamometer runs have been completed, component assemblies for the future prototype have been tested ‘on track’, and the initial test results are ready for analysis.
Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director since July 2003, emphasised the progress made and the project’s importance in his first interim statement. “Volkswagen has taken on a large and exiting task”, explained the Dane. “Logistics and race preparation are made under one roof since the formation of the Cross Country Centre (CCC). A works team will be systematically built up for this purpose. We will rely on the concern’s resources in Wolfsburg for the duration of the entire development. The marathon project enjoys highest priority within the Volkswagen sport programme.”
All configurations of chassis and body were defined and implemented structurally under the leadership of Technical Director Eduard Weidl. With the optimum classification of the Touareg, according to the motorsport governing body’s FIA T2 regulations, in mind, Volkswagen opted for a 2.3-litre five-cylinder TDI® engine to propel the vehicle. Subject to a factor of 1.5 for turbo diesel power plants, the Touareg is categorised in the class with a minimum weight of 1750 kilograms.
“All the important requirements for the project’s success are given with these control parameters”, stressed Nissen. “After the prototype’s roll-out, the first test is scheduled for November. The Touareg will have its baptism of fire during the Dakar Rally in January 2004. We want to be gunning for victory there in 2005.” Volkswagen will sign a second driver team to race alongside works driver Jutta Kleinschmidt and co-pilot Fabrizia Pons for the Dakar Rally.