Volkswagen still lead - Al-Attiyah reduces deficit to Sainz -

Volkswagen still lead – Al-Attiyah reduces deficit to Sainz

Wolfsburg (13 January 2010). Volkswagen defended its lead on the eleventh of the 14 stages in the Dakar Rally: The three Volkswagen Race Touareg cars continue to lead the overall standings after the second Andes crossing from Chile to Argentina. The name of the potential winner still remains wide open: The leaders Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) lost 5 minutes 38 seconds of their lead to Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA). The closest rivals – Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F) in an X-raid BMW – are already 2 hours 9 minutes behind the leader in fourth place.

Sainz was forced to accept a setback on the descent of the Andes from an altitude of around 3,000 metres: Two slow punctures threw him back. In the overall standings he now leads by only 4 minutes 28 seconds from his team mate Al-Attiyah from Qatar. Mark Miller is still third 23 minutes 50 seconds behind. Best Volkswagen drivers on the day were Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D): Last year’s winners recorded the third fastest stage time ahead of Al-Attiyah and Miller and remain seventh overall. Victory on the day went to Guerlain Chicherit/Tina Thörner (F/S) in an X-raid BMW.

The eleventh Dakar Rally day was dominated by tight gravel sections, made great demands of both man and machine through river crossings and formed a challenge for the brakes with a long downhill section at the end of the stage. On the numerous rocky and stony sections the drivers aimed to avoid getting punctures.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“Three Race Touareg cars at the top of the leader board – we can still be satisfied with this. Carlos was thrown back today by two tyre failures, however his position in the overall standings remains unchanged. At the moment Carlos and Nasser are fighting among themselves at the head of the field – the next few days will be very exciting. All four Race Touareg vehicles again ran faultlessly on this demanding stage in high altitude.”

#300 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 3rd place day / 7th position overall
“A very narrow stage including the long crossing of a dry riverbed and also some water splashes. On top of this came deep hanging treetops through which we had to fight. There were enough opportunities to get a puncture today. We managed to avoid this, but after having started so far down we lost loads of time stuck in the dust cloud created by two Mitsubishis. From this point of view our result is quite satisfying.”

#303 – Carlos Sainz (E), 9th place day / 1st position overall
“Two slow punctures cost us a lot of time today. The first held only 30 kilometres, the second 40 before we had to change. The first time Stéphane Peterhansel in the X-raid BMW overtook me and the second time my team mate Mark Miller. From then on we spent the rest of the day in dust. Although this stage was short it was anything but easy. I’m happy that were able to retain the overall lead.”

#305 – Mark Miller (USA), 5th place day / 3rd position overall
“Today things were really tough. I wasn’t completely sure whether we’d found the right set-up as a lot of today’s route followed riverbeds. I intentionally took very little risk. However, in view of the time we achieved both the set-up and tactics were correct. Towards the end I had a slow puncture for the last 40 kilometres, which I didn’t have to change before the finish. I’m more than happy with the result.”

#306 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 4th place day / 2nd position overall
“The gap between my team mate Carlos Sainz and I has shrunk. However, it wasn’t my own performance which was decisive but in fact Carlos’ bad luck which brought him two slow punctures and cost him time. I think our tactics of driving carefully on the terrain with sharp stones before attacking when tyre failures were unlikely paid off. I must, however, admit that we were lucky today – as we hit a tree once and could have damaged the car.”

Number of the day

Up to now during the Dakar Rally the co-drivers have given their drivers instructions every 17.7 seconds. The 3,522 stage kilometres were described with a total 2,003 illustrations. At an average of four instructions per road book illustration the navigators gave their drivers a command every 439 metres.

From the Volkswagen bivouac

-Diesel donation: Volkswagen truck crew with prudent reaction
The occupants of the Volkswagen equipment truck with start number 778 were forced to make an unusual action. On the journey between Antofagasta and Copiapó the reserve tank on the MAN 6×6 sprung a leak. The Volkswagen team members reacted rapidly and prudently to protect the environment and to avoid contaminating the Atacama Desert: The service Amarok following close behind the truck also had its tanks filled to the brim with Aral Ultimate Diesel using hand pumps as did the second equipment truck, and much to their amazement and pleasure, several locals who also passed the temporary stopover. After donating the diesel the journey continued for start number 778 – the reserve tank in question was only filled with emergency fuel for the Race Touareg, which was only intended for the improbable emergency of a logistical glitch.

-Houses donation: Nasser Al-Attiyah is involved in “Un techo para mi país”
Houses for Chile and Argentina: Volkswagen factory driver Nasser Al-Attiyah supports “Un techo para mi país” (translated: “A roof for my country”). The Qatari donated a sum of money that enabled 100 simple wooden houses to be built to protect the poorest of the poor from weather and criminality. During the 2010 Dakar Rally rest day in Antofagasta the “Dakar” organiser A.S.O. (Amaury Sport Organisation) donated 112,000 Dollar for this project which is active throughout the entirety of Latin America.

Standings after leg 11, Santiago (RCH)–San Juan (RA); 220/434 km SS 11/total

Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Leg 11; Total time
1 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h 42m 10s (9) 39h 16m 55s
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h 36m 32s (4) + 4m 28s
3 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h 37m 41s (5) + 23m 50s
4 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F) BMW X3 CC 2h 37m 43s (6) + 2h 09m 53s
5 Guerlain Chicherit/Tina Thörner (F/S) BMW X3 CC 2h 34m 51s (1) + 2h 23m 40s
6 Carlos Sousa/Matthieu Baumel (P/F) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer 2h 42m 17s (10) + 3h 54m 12s
7 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h 35m 30s (3) + 4h 39m 33s
8 Guilherme Spinelli/Filipe Palmeiro (BR/P) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer 2h 45m 27s (12) + 5h 28m 25s
9 Orlando Terranova/Pascal Maimon (RA/F) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer 2h 35m 21s (2) + 5h 33m 42s
10 Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA) Hummer 2h 39m 52s (7) + 5h 41m 38s

Coming up …

Thursday, 14 January: 12th leg, San Juan (RA)–San Rafael (RA). The journey through the Argentinean provinces San Juan and San Rafael is the longest of the entire rally. 796 kilometres in one day – of these 476 against the clock – ensure that the “Dakar” day will be long and tiring. It is not only the quantity of stage kilometres that are top the quality is as well. On the days eleven to fourteen a total of almost 400 kilometres are on the agenda with sandy subsoil – about half of all the stage kilometres.

The Dakar Rally on TV

14 January
08:30–09:15 Eurosport Highlights 11th leg (re-run)
11:15–12:00 Eurosport Highlights 11th leg (re-run)
12:00–14:00 RTL RTL Punkt 12 (Dakar Rally feature)
18:45–19:03 RTL RTL aktuell (evening news)
20:20–20:30 Eurosport Arrival at the finish; live report
23:00–23:45 Eurosport Highlights 12th leg
Additional reports on the news and sports programmes of channels n-tv, ARD, ZDF, DMAX and Sky (Motorvision TV).

Volkswagen Motorsport public website:

2010 Dakar Rally info:

Volkswagen “Dakar” iPhone app: