57 days until the 2010 Dakar Rally
Volkswagen to field five Race Touareg vehicles at 2010 “Dakar”
Wolfsburg (06 November 2009). It is truly a five-star line-up: Volkswagen will field five Race Touareg vehicles at the 2010 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile. The Wolfsburg-based automobile manufacturer has signed the Brazilians Maurício Neves and Clécio Maestrelli as another driver/co-driver team alongside the previously confirmed pairings Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) as well as Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D). The “factory” duos unanimously pursue one goal: to repeat the victory achieved in the 2009 Dakar Rally by the first diesel-powered automobile in the history of the tradition-steeped desert rally at the same venue. In January 2009 de Villiers/von Zitzewitz triumphed ahead of their team-mates Miller/Pitchford and thus made history: Volkswagen won the first “Dakar” held on South American soil with the 280-hp cross-country rally prototype.
“At the 2009 Dakar Rally we showed that the Race Touareg is not only the most reliable but also the fastest cross-country rally vehicle in the world and that the Volkswagen Group’s TDI technology is superior to other diesel power concepts,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “We want to successfully defend our title at the upcoming ‘Dakar’. We have put together a powerful drivers’ squad. I’m happy that by signing Maurício Neves and Clécio Maestrelli we’ve been able to contract two local heroes from the South American continent.”
Maurício Neves: debut with the Race Touareg in Brazil
Maurício Neves is already intimately familiar with the Volkswagen Race Touareg. The Brazilian driver made his competition debut in the “Dakar” prototype from Wolfsburg at the Rally dos Sertões at the end of June 2009. At the “little Dakar” in Brazil, which covered a distance of 4,500 kilometres, the 40-year-old Neves finished third in class behind the commanding one-two winners Sainz/Cruz and Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk and sixth overall. Clécio Maestrelli was signed as Neves’ co-driver for the upcoming “Dakar”.
“For Clécio and me, it is a great honour being able to contest the Dakar Rally with such a perfectly organized and professional team,” says Maurício Neves. “This makes a years-long dream come true. At the ‘Sertões’ I was able to experience the team’s working style and the perfect handling of the Race Touareg, now I want to prove at the ‘Dakar’ that Volkswagen’s trust in me is justified.”
Maurício Neves is the most successful driver in Brazilian cross-country rally racing: In his native Brazil he has clinched several drivers’ titles. Clécio Maestrelli navigated Neves as his co-driver in most of these exploits.