Wolfsburg (03 January 2011). The second leg and the second stage victory: Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) managed to more than double their advantage in the Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 on the second day of the Dakar Rally. The Spanish duo won the 764-kilometre stage from Córdoba to San Miguel in Argentina. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) completed Volkswagen’s one-two stage win today. X-raid BMW driver Stéphane Peterhansel, who was running in second place for a long time, finished the stage in third. Sainz is now leading the overall standings with 3m 05s in front of his closest rival, the Frenchman Peterhansel. After clinching his good stage result, Nasser Al-Attiyah has narrowed the gap to Stéphane Peterhansel to 14 seconds.
In the “Garden of the Republic” as the area in the Tucumán region is called Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in another Race Touareg set the stage’s fourth-best time, thus improving by one position to fourth place overall. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) in the fourth Race Touareg suffered a time loss. They damaged their vehicle during an excursion off the track at the beginning of the special stage and dropped back by more than 40 minutes in the interim standings.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“This was a day with lots of light and a little shade for Volkswagen. We’re very pleased with the results. By clinching his second stage win Carlos doubled his advantage. Today confirmed that Stéphane Peterhansel is our strongest rival. Behind him two other Volkswagen drivers, Nasser and Giniel, follow. Mark Miller’s time loss was a drop of bitterness. But despite this setback he can still achieve a place among the top. The team will repair the damage so that on the third stage we’ll compete with four cars again.”
#300 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place leg / 1st place overall
“It was a really nice leg with many passages which suited me well and were good fun. And, like yesterday, we got into a thunderstorm right in the middle of the special stage. Unfortunately, our windscreen wiper wasn’t working properly there, which obstructed our vision. These things can happen. More annoying was the fact that just a few kilometres before the finish we caught an official vehicle that was travelling slowly on the rally route without letting us pass for several kilometres. That cost us time. So, all in all, we can be more than happy with our stage win because our performance was right today.”
#302 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 2nd place leg / 3rd place overall
“Today was the kind of day I like. The special stage was demanding and very good to drive. But it was important not to risk too much in order to keep from damaging the car – because that could have very easily happened today if you made just the slightest mistake. Despite the calculated risk we kept our gap within reasonable limits: particularly because my co-driver Timo Gottschalk did an outstanding job today. I think I was in good shape today too. The rally is still long and our stages will hopefully come in the desert.”
#308 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 4th place leg / 4th place overall
“Incredible how much the weather changed again today on the special stage. The rain came from one minute to the next. And whenever it rains here, it really pours. After a few kilometres we came to a place where Mark Miller was lying on the roof. He walked up towards us and warned us. After making sure that he and Ralph Pitchford were okay, we kept on driving – but with throttled risk. Today there was again more to lose than to win. We could see by the ruts in the ground how easy it was to make a mistake. In many cases the cars in front of us were running alongside the track. We didn’t want that to happen to us.”
Number of the day
About 2,400 cable ties are employed by the Volkswagen mechanics during a Dakar Rally. The ingenious universal ties are used for maintenance work on the Race Touareg 3 cars as well as for many other tasks. The number-one consumption material is always readily accessible in six different sizes and lengths on each of the four service trucks allocated directly to the “RT3” vehicles.
Three questions for service truck driver Axel Schröder
With eight entries in the “Dakar” under your belt you are one of the most experienced Vokswagen team members. What entices you to contest this desert rally anew each year?
“A little bit of wanderlust is part of it, because during the cross-country rallies you travel long distances and get to see a lot of the scenery. That’s very interesting. In addition, ever since I got my driving licence for lorries while serving in the German military, I’ve enjoyed going on truck tours and I love motorsport. I like the job of lending a helping hand as a rolling garage during a rally and to feel the energy that’s part of all this. Plus, the enthusiasm of the people here in South America is like icing on the cake.”
You are one of the most popular people in the team. How does one manage to assume such a role?
“That’s really not difficult at all. You’ve just got to be willing to always listen to the problems of others – then you’ll be better able to handle your own problems as well. I always try and understand my guys and to accept them the way they are. The teamwork with my two co-drivers at the Dakar Rally is particularly smooth. We’re a really close squad in our truck and understand each other blindly.”
Three good reasons why Volkswagen could clinch the “Dakar” title for the third time in a row?
“For one, no doubt, it’s the perfectly functioning team that has been working in superb harmony for years. And of course the Race Touareg which has become increasingly fast and reliable over the past few years. Last but not least, our drivers and co-drivers who have learned more and more at each rally and are among the best in this sport. I’m confident that we’ll be in contention for victory through to the very end. And of course I’m hoping that ‘my’ drivers, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk, will be the ones to ultimately win. Because we perform the daily service for them and are therefore even closer to them than we are to the other three pairings.”
Standings after leg 02, Córdoba (RA)–San Miguel (RA); 324/764 km SS 02/total