Dakar: Bitter disappointment for Volkswagen team

VW suffers a devistating blow to their push in Dakar after 6 stage wins.

Dakar Rally, stage 9, 15 January 2007

Wolfsburg (15 January 2007). After making an impressive start to the 29th Dakar Rally the Volkswagen team was dealt a cruel blow today: The factory duo Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany) started the ninth stage as leaders but, like their team mates Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (Spain/France) in fourth place, were also stopped by a technical defect on the Race Touareg 2 during the ninth stage from Tichit to Nema in Mauritania.

"This double setback is a bitter disappointment, particularly as our performance was rewarded with six stage wins up to this point. Unfortunately, our dream of victory was buried in the deserts sands today”, says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "A cam follower in the valve train on the engine broke on Giniel de Villiers’ car. A hole was punched in the valve cover as a result, and the escaping oil ignited on the hot turbocharger. The flames were doused immediately with the onboard fire extinguisher. The car is being towed back to the bivouac by one of our Race-Trucks. Carlos Sainz, who had led the rally comfortably prior to this stage, was slowed when his engine cut-out and refused to start again, probably due to an electrical problem. He is also being towed to the bivouac.”

Volkswagen held a commanding lead in the Dakar Rally from the start on 6 January in Lisbon until today. The de Villiers/von Zitzewitz duo were more than thirty minutes ahead of their closest rival before entering the ninth stage. Sainz/Périn only lost second overall on the eighth stage after a hydraulic steering hose chaffed through, and which left Sainz without steering assistance. Volkswagen was able to win six of the nine stages run to date, two – including today’s ninth stage – won by Jean-Louis Schlesser (France/Buggy-Ford) and one by Robby Gordon (USA/Hummer).

Carlos Sousa/Andy Schulz (Portugal/Germany) in the Lagos Team Race Touareg and the factory pairing of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) ended the ninth stage in seventh and ninth positions respectively about half-an-hour behind the winner after sacrificing valuable time to help Sainz. In the overall classification, which is now led by Stéphane Peterhansel (France/Mitsubishi), Miller/Pitchford and Sousa/Schulz hold sixth and seventh positions.

Kris Nissen: "We’ll check the extent of the damage in the bivouac and move heaven and earth so that Giniel and Carlos can start again on Tuesday. We’ll continue to push and give our all the way to the finish in Dakar.”

Source: Volkswagen

Posted in | Submitted by deviantspeed on Mon, 2007-01-15 19:28.
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