“Dakar” winners amongst themselves: de Villiers in Russia in front of Sainz

Wolfsburg (14 September 2010). The lead has changed at the “Dakar” dress rehearsal in Russia: the Volkswagen drivers Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) have taken the overall lead at the Silk Way Rally on clinching their third stage win. On the fourth of eight legs the 2009 “Dakar” winning duo prevailed against its Volkswagen team colleagues Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) who had decided this year’s “Dakar” in their favour. 1m 35s now separate de Villiers/von Zitzewitz and Sainz/Cruz in the overall classification. Third place on the stage between Lipetsk and Volgograd plus third overall went to Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) in the third factory-prepared and factory-fielded Race Touareg. Fourth overall was secured by the fourth Volkswagen “Dakar” duo, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) who set the day’s fourth-best time.

Leg four of the Silk Way Rally from Lipetsk to Volgograd took the teams through four different vegetation zones: from mixed forests through wooded steppe and steppe regions all the way to the semi-desert in which Volgograd is located. 60 per cent of the 298.05-kilometre special stage of the rally consisted of sandy ground and put the contenders to the test with tricky navigation and demanding undulating, partially wooded sections which required superb driving skills.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“Today our ‘Dakar’ dress rehearsal started in earnest. The leg was difficult – for the car as well as for the drivers and co-drivers. There were many sandy sections and demanding navigational tasks. I think that victory will continue to be decided between Carlos Sainz, Giniel de Villiers and Nasser Al-Attiyah. But there’s no doubt in my mind at all that the decision to contest the Silk Way Rally was absolutely right. It’s a perfect competitive test for the 2011 Dakar Rally.”

#100 – Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place leg / 2nd place overall
“We were actually having a wonderful day until I braked too late at a fork in the road and stalled the engine. By the time it started again we’d already lost some time. That’s really a shame because except for that everything was going well today. Tomorrow we’ll be in for a tough day on which we want to recover the ground we lost today.”

#101 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 1st place leg / 1st place overall
“Fourth leg, third stage win – you could hardly wish for more than that. We had a flawless day, no incidents. The Race Touareg was running like clockwork and my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz did an outstanding job, properly judged all the intersections and immediately found the way points in the dunes.”

#102 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 3rd place leg / 3rd place overall
“Unfortunately, we had a bit of misfortune today because a hose clamp on the intercooler broke at a pretty early stage – something that normally never happens. We wanted to make up the three minutes we lost due to the repair and suffered a puncture in the process. Clearly, this was not my day. But tomorrow there’ll be another chance to catch up to the top, and I’m determined to use it.”

#104 – Mark Miller (USA), 4th place leg / 4th place overall
“The navigation was difficult again today and unfortunately it caused us to lose time. Twice we didn’t immediately find the way. But this doesn’t explain the loss of time we suffered in the dunes. They were hard to handle because they dropped down very steeply on the back. At the finish I was surprised about the times set by our team colleagues. I want to and will learn from that for the ‘Dakar.’”
Number of the day
The total deflection and top-out travel of the damper pistons on the car of Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz on the fourth leg amounted to 41,825.8 metres. The Race Touareg 3 vehicles are fitted with two dampers per wheel from technology partner ZF Sachs. The suspension travel is limited to a maximum of 250 millimetres by the regulations.
Standings after leg 04, Lipetsk (RUS)–Volgograd (RUS); 298/786 km SS 04/Total

Pos., Team, Vehicle, Leg 04, Total time
1 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 3h 10m 39s (1), 7h 47m 23s
2 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Volkswagen Race Touareg 3, 3h 13m 33s (2) + 1m 35s
3 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 3h 17m 12s (3) + 6m 33s
4 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 3h 21m 17s (4) + 38m 30s
5 Matthias Kahle/Thomas Schünemann (D/D), SMG Buggy, 3h 43m 40s (5) + 1h 23m 16s
6 Alexander Mironenko/Sergey Lebedev (RUS/RUS), Nissan Frontier, 3h 51m 27s (6) + 1h 35m 00s
7 Ilya Kuznetsov/Andrey Neshin (RUS/RUS), Mitsubishi L201, 4h 08m 04s (8) + 1h 48m 23s
8 Benediktas Vanagas/Saulius Jurgelenas (LT/LT), OSC Oscar, 3h 57m 33s (7) + 2h 12m 07s
9 Binyamin Dzhepaev/Alexey Kuzmich (RUS/RUS), UAZ Pickup, 4h 11m 37s (9) + 2h 26m 34s
10 Frédéric Chavigny/Jean Brucy (F/F), Nissan Pathfinder, 4h 18m 26s (10) + 2h 32m 02s

Coming up …

Wednesday, 15 September: leg 05, Volgograd (RUS)–Astrakhan (RUS) in brief: 50% steppe; 25% swampy-sandy passages; 25% small dunes
The Silk Way Rally on TV
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
23.45–00.00 Eurosport Silk Way Rally, summary, leg 4

Wednesday, 15 September 2010
08.35–08.45 Eurosport Silk Way Rally, summary, leg 4 (rerun)

Additional reports on the news and sports programmes of TV channels n-tv, ARD and ZDF.