Wolfsburg (09 January 2011). Volkswagen maintains lead with Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) in the Race Touareg 3 as Dakar Rally enters second half. However, with victory on the day in the seventh stage in Chile their team mates Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) have moved to within 1 minute 22 seconds to the Spaniard in the overall standings. In their battle for the lead the two Race Touareg 3 have moved further ahead of their closest pursuer Stéphane Peterhansel in the X-raid-BMW. The Frenchman is already 21 minutes 11 seconds off the lead.
Al-Attiyah celebrated his second stage victory of the rally ahead of Carlos Sainz on the way to Arica from Antofagasta – for Volkswagen it was already the sixth win on the seven stages to date. In the process Al-Attiyah halved the gap to Sainz. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) completed the successful day in third 2 minutes 56 seconds behind. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) got lost in the team’s fourth Race Touareg 3 and lost 39 minutes 11 seconds as a result.
The character of today’s stage resembled the recently driven sixth stage; however the teams completed the route in the opposite direction. A serpentine downhill section to conclude the stage proved so narrow that the drivers had to reverse in some of the corners. The accompanying service fleet also mastered a known route in the opposite direction. The sporting events forced the organiser to change the route: Many teams only reached the bivouac extremely late on the rest day due to a difficult stage. To make the start of the second rally week easier for them, those responsible shortened the original 611 kilometre long seventh stage to 273 kilometres. As a result, the teams already reached the stage finish close to the Rio Loa with its view across the Pacific. It is the only river with its source in the Andes and which does not completely evaporate in the Atacama Desert as it meanders to the sea.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“That was a fantastic day for three of our cars. The one-two-three shows just how well the team worked on the rest day. I’m delighted with the start of the second half of the rally. We also managed to increase the cushion to Stéphane Peterhansel. Nevertheless the same still applies: We must first beat the Dakar Rally and its conditions and secondly continue to keep Stéphane Peterhansel at arm’s length.”
#300 – Carlos Sainz (E), 2nd place leg / 1st position overall
“It wasn’t easy to open the stage today because the navigation was so demanding. My co-driver Lucas did a fantastic job as we could very easily have lost more than two minutes today. This wasn’t the case – which is why I more than happy with the result. Tomorrow it’s the other way around: My team mate Nasser Al-Attiyah must open the stage and we can tag along behind.”
#302 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 1st place leg / 2nd position overall
“Reduce the gap a little every day – this is exactly how we expected it to be. Today we had the advantage of being able to follow my team mate Carlos Sainz. We benefited from this up until the moment we caught him up. Afterwards we were stuck in his dust cloud. A long stage awaits us tomorrow. We’ll see what’s possible there. Whatever the case we’ll do everything to reduce the gap even further.”
#304 – Mark Miller (USA), 12th place leg / 6th position overall
“Today wasn’t our day. We got a puncture to start the day. After changing the tyre we quickly found our rhythm. From then on things actually ran very well – up to the point where we reached a confusing point in the road book. We searched for a long time for the way point that would have led us into the correct valley. To find the right way again we just needed too much time.”
#308 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 3rd place leg / 4th position overall
“A short but nevertheless varied ‘Dakar’ stage. It was very similar to the stage before the rest day, but wasn’t quite as hard as expected. The navigation today was particularly difficult in the dunes. But I think that today both my co-driver and I made almost no mistakes. We lost a little time again to our team mates Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz who are absolutely flying at the front. We made up ground on Stéphane Peterhansel in the BMW though. The next few days will be tough. We aim to make up time again then.”
Number of the day
The Volkswagen Motorsport team doctor carries 143 different medicines with him for medical emergencies and for treating typical small “Dakar” wounds: Ointments, pills, medicine for intravenous administration and drops.
From the Volkswagen bivouac
Head of State visits Volkswagen team
During the Dakar Rally rest day Chilean State President Sebastián Piñera toured the bivouac and also visited the Volkswagen team. Factory driver Carlos Sainz and his team mate Nasser Al-Attiyah took time in Arica to explain the elaborate technology found in the 228 kW/310 hp Race Touareg with TDI power and Volkswagen’s “Dakar” appearance to the President.
Family trip in the desert – Le Mans legend Jacky Ickx and daughter Vanina at the Rally Dakar
Jacky Ickx, six-time Le Mans winner and 1983 Dakar Rally victor followed the Dakar Rally in a Volkswagen Amarok. He reports about the desert classic for Eurosport. His daughter Vanina Ickx, who scored a class victory in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in 2010 in a Volkswagen Scirocco GT24-CNG together with Nasser Al-Attiyah, Klaus Niedzwiedz and Dieter Depping, also visited two of her long-distance team mates in the desert.
Standings after leg 07, Arica (RCH)–Antofagasta (RCH); 273/819 km SS 07/total
Pos. Team Vehicle Leg 07 Total time
1 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 2h 42m 17s (2); 23h 21m 58s
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 2h 40m 57s (1) + 1m 22s
3 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); BMW X3 CC; 2h 48m 37s (4) + 21m 11s
4 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 2h 43m 53s (3) + 32m 45s
5 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B); BMW X3 CC; 2h 57m 57s (5) + 1h 28m 59s
6 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 3h 20m 08s (12) + 2h 13m 44s
7 Guilherme Spinelli/Youssef Haddad (BR/BR); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 3h 03m 11s (8) + 2h 38m 50s
8 Christian Lavieille/Jean-Michel Polato (F/F); Nissan Proto; 3h 01m 04s (6) + 3h 26m 41s
9 Ricardo Leal dos Santos/Paulo Fiuza (P/P); BMW X3 CC; 3h 01m 45s (7) + 3h 30m 40s
10 Matthias Kahle/Thomas Schünemann (D/D); Buggy SMG; 3h 27m 23s (13) + 5h 45m 10s