Facts and figures about Volkswagen’s one-two win at the “Dakar”

Dakar Rally – two weeks after the event

Giniel de Villiers (ZA) and Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) during 2009 Dakar
Giniel de Villiers (ZA) and Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) during 2009 Dakar

Wolfsburg (30 January 2009). The first victory of a diesel-powered prototype at the Dakar Rally two weeks ago marked a two-fold triumph for Volkswagen. Giniel de Villiers (ZA) and Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) won the debut event of the off-road classic in South America ahead of their team-mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA). A sixth-place finish was achieved by the Germans Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk in a further Volkswagen Race Touareg. The toughest of all rallies caused a sensation around the world. From its adventurous aspect to spectator response, here are some facts and figures on the 2009 “Dakar”.

Did you know that …

… the Dakar Rally was truly a resounding spectator success? Over 500,000 fans flocked just to the ceremonial start in Buenos Aires. Overall, the number of fans who accompanied the “Dakar” along the rally routes is estimated to amount to more than two million.

… the number of TV viewers tuning into the event was a success for the Dakar Rally as well? The fascinating pictures of the first South American “Dakar” were aired in 189 countries. The European sports channel “Eurosport” broadcast 48 hours of Dakar Rally coverage, reaching 33 million spectators. German TV stations aired more than ten hours of “Dakar” pictures, watched by 140 million viewers. 80 million people tuned into “Dakar” coverage just on RTL.

… the data of the engineers for Carlos Sainz revealed an average accelerator pedal position of 81 per cent? His longest stretch without “lifting”: 9.91 kilometres.

… the first victory of a diesel-powered prototype at the Dakar Rally clinched by the Race Touareg also marked Volkswagen’s tenth outright exploit in cross-country rally racing since 2004?

… 89 out of 184 possible stage victories since the Race Touareg program was launched in 2004 went to Wolfsburg?

… the highest elevation of the Dakar Rally was reached on the eleventh leg from Copiapó to Fiambalá? While crossing the San Franzisco pass, the contenders ascended to a height of 4,726 metres.

… the total time set by Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz at the “Dakar” – 48h10m57s – could have even been a few seconds better? On the tenth special stage, a loop around the Chilenean desert town of Copiapó, an armadillo crossed their path. More than likely, the mammal was more shocked about the encounter than the two subsequent “Dakar” winners.

… the competitive balance in the Volkswagen factory was particularly high in 2009? 24 out of 39 possible top-three positions on the individual stages were scored by Volkswagen. On average, 4m27.30s separated the best and the second-best contenders from Wolfsburg on the special stages. The smallest gap: 20 seconds – between de Villiers/von Zitzewitz und Miller/Pitchford on leg six.

…the average driving time of Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz on the special stages was 3h42m38s? Added to this were the liaison stages before and after the specials. For comparison: The contender who reached the finish after the longest driving time spent 11h52m43s hours in the car every day – also plus the liaison legs.

… Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk completed 4,330 timed kilometres on the 13 classified special stages? This equates to about 50 percent of the total distance of these 13 legs.

… “Dakar” winner Dirk von Zitzewitz used eight different colours to mark his roadboak and spent an average of three hours preparing it?

… Dirk von Zitzewitz and Giniel de Villiers can also communicate in German in the cockpit if necessary? Giniel de Villiers’ mother tongue is Afrikaans, which has its origins in the Dutch language. Phonetically, “left” and “right” are identical to German.

… the communication inside the cockpit between the two “Dakar” winners on one occasion was not enough to achieve the purpose? On the extremely rough and crucial twelfth leg Dirk von Zitzewitz pointed the way to his driver by running in front of the car through a field of scree – one of the keys to their triumph.