Posted: 02 Jan 2011 02:00 PM PST
The Dakar Rally started with the first stage win for Volkswagen. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) are leading the desert classic in the Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 after the first of 13 legs by 1m 31s ahead of X-raid BMW driver Stéphane Peterhansel.
The team colleagues of last year’s winners made a good showing on the 788-kilometer stage between Victoria and Córdoba in Argentina as well. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) finished the gravel stage in rain as the third-best contenders with a gap of 2m 16s. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) followed in fourth place with a 4m 17s gap. The Volkswagen foursome at the front of the field was completed by Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in fifth place overall and a gap of 5m 06s.
As many as three thunderstorms made the passage of the first leg a slippery endeavor. The 222 kilometers of the first special stage out of the total distance of 5,020 turned into gushing streams of mud and water. The main task of the four pairings in the Race Touareg 3 was to get their vehicles through the demanding gravel passages with slopes up to an altitude of 1,000 meters above mean sea level quickly and unharmed. In view of the many boulders alongside the road even small mistakes could have easily meant the end of the race.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
#300 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place leg / 1st place overall
#302 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 3rd place leg / 3rd place overall
#304 – Mark Miller (USA), 4th place leg / 4th place overall
#308 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 5th place leg / 5th place overall
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