Volkswagen drivers continue to set the pace in Russia

Wolfsburg (13 September 2010). Volkswagen continues to set the pace at its “Dakar” dress rehearsal in Russia with a solid team performance. The 2009 “Dakar” winners decided the third leg of the Silk Way Rally in their favour: Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) celebrated the second stage win between Vyazma and Lipetsk on leg 03 of the rally. By finishing the special stage as the runners-up Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) defended their overall lead. Five legs before the finish in Sochi their advantage amounts to 1m 19s. Third place today went to the duo Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), who after four and a half hours of driving time are at an equal overall time level with de Villiers/von Zitzewitz. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) set the fourth-best time in the fourth Race Touareg.

The third leg of the Silk Way Rally from Vyazma to Lipetsk primarily put the communication between the drivers and co-drivers to the test. Many branch-offs, forks in the roads and intersections required the co-drivers’ full concentration. The drivers were faced with a demanding gravel stage featuring many quick directional changes.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“Volkswagen can be proud of its squad today because we’ve shown a good team performance on this tricky leg. The drivers in particular did a flawless job and the mechanics prepared four perfect Race Touareg vehicles. For the co-drivers it was a difficult day. They made some minor mistakes today and got lost. Something like this shouldn’t happen at the ‘Dakar.’”

#100 – Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place leg / 1st place overall
“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a leg with so many branch-offs as I have today. There was an incredible amount of work for my co-driver Lucas Cruz and branch-offs, branch-offs, branch-offs. Therefore, opening the special stage today was no advantage because we couldn’t use the tracks of other drivers for orientation. So, we can be more than pleased with the day’s result even though the situation in the overall standings is pretty tight. We need to continue to stay concentrated.”

#101 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 1st place leg / 2nd place overall
“We had a good day today, even though it didn’t feel like it in the car at first. We also made some minor mistakes at the many intersections – as did our team colleagues. Well, those were the characteristics of this leg. And all in all we managed to deliver a solid drive.”

#102 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 3rd place leg / 3rd place overall
“We wanted to close up to our team colleague Carlos Sainz who opened the stage in front of us – unfortunately we lost a few seconds in the end. But nothing’s been decided yet at this rally by a long shot. Just looking at the overall standings shows this. We’re all close together.”

#104 – Mark Miller (USA), 4th place leg / 5th place overall
“Today, perfect communication in the cockpit was crucial. My co-driver Ralph Pitchford and I managed this almost across the whole distance. Unfortunately, we made a navigation error at the beginning of the leg. On another occasion I misunderstood Ralph and took a turn where we should have gone straight ahead. That cost time. But on the whole it was a good leg for us.”
Number of the day
On the third special stage the co-drivers announced instructions to the drivers about every 8.8 seconds. The roadbook for the 207.25-kilometre route included 62 pages and 307 pictures. Each picture contains up to four different pieces of information and is repeated three times on average.
Standings after leg 03, Vyazma (RUS)–Lipetsk (RUS); 208/607 km SS 03/Total

Pos., Team, Vehicle, Leg 03, Total time
1 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Volkswagen Race Touareg 3, 2h 15m 55s (2), 4h 35m 25s
2 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 2h 14m 48s (1) + 1m 19s
3 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 2h 16m 07s (3) + 1m 19s
4 Boris Gadasin/Vladimir Demjanenko (RUS/RUS), Proto G Force, 2h 30m 08s (5) + 19m 30s
5 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 2h 18m 35s (4) + 29m 11s
6 Matthias Kahle/Thomas Schünemann (D/D), SMG Buggy, 2h 39m 32s (7) + 51m 34s
7 Ilya Kuznetsov/Andrey Neshin (RUS/RUS), Mitsubishi L201, 2h 44m 02s (9) + 52m 17s
8 Alexander Mironenko/Sergey Lebedev (RUS/RUS), Nissan Frontier, 2h 40m 38s (8) + 55m 31s
9 Bogdan Novitsky/Vitaly Evtekhov (UKR/UKR), Nissan Pick-up, 3h 00m 11s (17) + 1h 05m 08s
10 Aldis Vilcans/Vladimir Makarenko (LV/UKR), Mitsubishi Pajero, 3h 01m 16s (18) + 1h 22m 58s

Coming up …

Tuesday, 14 September: leg 04, Lipetsk (RUS)–Volgograd (RUS) in brief: 60% winding, hard-soil sections; 30% sandy passages; 10 % small dunes
The Silk Way Rally on TV
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
00.15–00.30 Eurosport Silk Way Rally, summary, leg 3
08.30–08.45 Eurosport Silk Way Rally, summary, leg 3 (rerun)
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.