Volkswagen and its works driver Carlos Sainz have won the 2007 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. The Spaniard and his French co-driver Michel Périn secured the championship title in Dubai today (Friday) thanks to a second-place finish in their TDI-powered Race Touareg in the final round of the series, the UAE Desert Challenge.

Sainz is the second Volkswagen driver in three years to win the title; the accolade is a unique addition to the two World Rally Championship crowns he already holds. It is also the sixth FIA co-driver title for Périn.

The Sainz/Périn Race Touareg crossed the Dubai finish line of the UAE Desert Challenge 12 minutes behind the winning Mitsubishi of Stephane Peterhansel. The Volkswagen of Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz placed third overall after claiming fastest time on one of today’s closing stages.

‘I’m happy and delighted for the team,’ said Sainz. ‘This is another valuable success for Volkswagen and a well deserved reward for the entire squad. Personally this title is very special: twice I have been World Rally Champion, but this is my first title win in cross-country rally sport.’ Sainz won May’s Rally Transibérico and placed second in Morocco in September (behind de Villiers) on his way to championship victory.

The UAE Desert Challenge was the final dress rehearsal before January’s Dakar Rally, on which five Race Touaregs will compete. There will be works cars for Sainz, de Villiers, American Mark Miller and Germany’s Dieter Depping, plus a customer team-run machine for Portugal’s Carlos Sousa.

‘This is a fantastic conclusion to a long season,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. ‘That we were so successful in the end is particularly rewarding to us as a team. Now we are going to prepare intensively for the Dakar Rally.’

UAE Desert Challenge provisional final standings

1 Stephane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Mitsubishi 17h 26m 36s

2 Carlos Sainz (ESP) / Michel Périn (FRA) Volkswagen +11m 56s

3 Giniel de Villiers (RSA) / Dirk von Zitzewitz (GER) Volkswagen +28m 35s

4 Leonid Novitskiy / Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) Mitsubishi +3h 56m 7s

5 Nicolas Gibon / Bruno Cattarelli (FRA) Toyota +4h 47m 37s

6 Balazs Szalai / Laszio Bunkoczi (HUN) Opel +4h 57m 38s