Posted: 06 Jan 2011 12:16 PM PST
Volkswagen has maintained the lead with the Race Touareg 3 on the fifth leg of the Dakar Rally. In the overall standings Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) remain the front runners with an advantage of 2m 26s after the 459-kilometer leg in the north of Chile from Calama to Iquique. The stage win was secured for the first time by X-raid BMW driver Stéphane Peterhansel in front of the two Volkswagen drivers Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) and Sainz. The Frenchman thus bumped Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) from second to third place overall in the rally’s standings – a mere seven seconds separate the two duos.
As the winner of the previous day, Carlos Sainz had the difficult task of opening the leg and to leave the trails for his rivals to follow. Sainz was initially leading and then Peterhansel took the place at the front. The Frenchman extended his advantage up to 3m 45s some of the time. In the second half of the special with its extreme differences in altitude of more than 3,000 metres at the start down to sea level on the Pacific coast at the finish Al-Attiyah and Sainz made up ground again though. The gaps between the three drivers kept changing from one check point to the other by full minutes – the stage result remained open up to the finish. In the end Al-Attiyah/Gottschalk arrived 1m 24s behind stage winner Peterhansel. Sainz/Cruz were lacking 3m 15s to Peterhansel. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in another Race Touareg 3 reached the bivouac in fourth place, thus retaining fourth place overall. Their team-mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) followed by finishing the special in fifth place and improved by three places to position seven overall. At the end of the stage the drivers thrilled the fans with a spectacular 2,300-metre descent from a steep, 700-metre high dune – the famous Cerra Dragón – directly into the bivouac. On the near-32-degree steep downhill drive to the finish the cars achieved a speed of up to 220 km/h.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“Congratulations to Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret on their perfect day. Even though we’re not in front in terms of the stage result we’re more than pleased at Volkswagen. All four Race Touareg cars ran really well. It was difficult for our drivers and co-drivers to open the course today. After this long special stage three pairings continue to be in contention for victory. This is a nice, exciting and fair race. We’re concentrating on continuing to do a good job in the days ahead. The ‘Dakar’ has only started in earnest today.”
#300 – Carlos Sainz (E), 3rd place leg / 1st place overall
“This leg was extremely tough. It was difficult in terms of navigation, physically strenuous and rough on the material too. At the beginning of the special stage the roadbook wasn’t accurate enough at one particular location. Being the first car out we got lost there and Stéphane Peterhansel overtook us. About 100 kilometres later we were able to pass him again. In the last dune belt we lost some more time because we caught a motorcycle rider on a dune crest and reduced our speed a bit too much. Unfortunately, we got stuck there. But, on the whole, it was a good day for us.”
#302 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 2nd place leg / 3rd place overall
“What an incredible day. We were able to reduce our gap to our team colleague Carlos Sainz today. I think that both of us, my co-driver Timo Gottschalk and I, did a good job today – even though we got lost in an area of broken ground due to the lack of clarity in the roadbook. The final shot for the finish was absolutely crazy. According to the engineers’ data we were driving at a speed of 220 km/h there. But that’s not the only reason why I’m really happy with the Race Touareg today. It was running perfectly today despite all the things it had to put up with.”
#304 – Mark Miller (USA), 5th place leg / 7th place overall
“We had no punctures and didn’t get stuck in the sand – and still lost a lot of time today. The navigation today was extremely demanding. After we caught up with our team-mate Giniel de Villiers – who’d apparently suffered a puncture – we got lost so severely in one place that we came out on the wrong side of a riverbed. To get on course again we had to drive back a long distance. In the end we did one loop too many in the dunes – that, I suppose, explains the loss in time.”
#308 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 4th place leg / 4th place overall
“This was definitely a tough day. In the beginning the route was extremely rough and washed-out riverbeds put the material to a tough test. That’s when we suffered a puncture and didn’t change the tyre as quickly as we actually can. Our rivals took many risks today. We didn’t want to do that at the end of the stage, which had a lot of hilltop jumps, and so we lost another minute. The shot for the finish compensated the participants for a rough leg. Flat out towards the Pacific – that’s pure adrenalin.”
Standings after leg 05, Calama (RCH)–Iquique (RCH); 423/459 km SS 05/total Pos. Team Vehicle Leg 05 Total time 1 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 4h 36m 34s (3); 15h 45m 48s 2 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); BMW X3 CC; 4h 33m 19s (1) + 2m 26s 3 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 4h 34m 43s (2) + 2m 33s 4 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 4h 38m 40s (4) + 21m 20s 5 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B); BMW X3 CC; 4h 56m 42s (6) + 47m 53s 6 Orlando Terranova/Filipe Palmeiro (ARG/P); BMW X3 CC; 5h 02m 22s (7) + 58m 59s 7 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 4h 54m 01s (5) + 1h 26m 03s 8 Guilherme Spinelli/Youssef Haddad (BR/BR); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 5h 10m 23s (8) + 1h 33m 34s 9 Nani Roma/Gilles Picard (E/F); Nissan Navara; 5h 12m 41s (9) + 1h 44m 39s 10 Christian Lavieille/Jean-Michel Polato (F/F); Nissan Proto; 5h 37m 31s (11) + 2h 14m 24s
Posted: 05 Jan 2011 01:37 PM PST
The fourth leg featured the extremely demanding crossing of the Andes at an altitude of more than 4,400 meters – including a plateau at an elevation of over 4,000 metres. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) extended their overall advantage by 50 seconds to 4m 24s. Their team colleagues Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) remain the runners-up. The two Volkswagen factory drivers also crossed the finish line of today’s stage in this order.
The fourth day of the world’s toughest desert rally was shaped by extreme physical strains for the entire team due to the crossing of the Andes and a nail-biting battle between Volkswagen and the Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel. The X-raid BMW driver had been leading the special, which had started at an altitude of 3,300 metres in the Atacama Desert, with nearly a one-minute advantage for some of the time but ultimately finished third with a gap of 1m 22s. Behind him the other two Volkswagen factory drivers, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA), finished the stage in positions four and five. As a result, de Villiers continues to rank in fourth place overall. Miller improved by two positions and is now in the top ten again.
The leg between San Salvador de Jujuy and Calama was characterized by numerous canyons, riverbeds and quick gravel passages. Many branch-offs made the navigation a tricky proposition for the Volkswagen co-drivers. In addition, the teams had to be careful to avoid punctures on sharp stones and smaller fields of scree. Mission accomplished: None of the Volkswagen drivers had to change any of the BFGoodrich tires.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“On the first special stage in the Atacama Desert our drivers managed a one-two win which makes me tremendously happy. It was the 125th stage win of a Race Touareg. I’m even happier about the fact that all four Race Touareg cars with our factory drivers handled this demanding special at this altitude so well. The entire team did a good job of dealing with these strains as well and is now tackling its regular chores of the day.”
#300 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place leg / 1st place overall
“It was a quick ‘Dakar’ day that actually only started after a beautiful but incredibly long liaison stage. Today it was crucial not to suffer a puncture on the gravel stretches. We managed that. We’ve put another stage past us that ended successfully. It’s good to continue to lead but we’re only in Chile now, and that’s where the rally really gets going.”
#302 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 2nd place leg / 2nd place overall
“Today, opening the course as yesterday’s stage winner was no advantage. We’d planned to lose less than one minute today and that plan worked out. More important yet is the fact that a long desert leg is coming up tomorrow, which our team-mate Carlos Sainz will open. So we’ll be in the better position. In terms of the overall standings the situation is extremely close. The order at the top may change any day due to small mistakes or minor problems. The race remains thrilling. And I continue to be optimistic.”
#304 – Mark Miller (USA), 5th place leg / 10th place overall
“Flat out all day – that was the situation throughout today’s special. It was really hard to find the right way because motorcycle riders who had gotten lost were coming up from all sides. That always puts doubts in your mind. But my co-driver Ralph Pitchford did an outstanding job. At the end we caught Krzysztof Holowczyc who had apparently suffered a puncture. In his dust it was no longer possible to attack although we almost managed to overtake him once. On the whole, things were running well today. I wouldn’t mind if it continued this way for the next few days.”
#308 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 4th place leg / 4th place overall
“Today the right tactics consisted of restraint and attack at the right places. Even though we lost a bit of ground again I’m pleased with the result. In the next few days we’ll go into the depths of the Atacama Desert and thus into the heart of the ‘Dakar’. The tables may quickly turn there, including to our benefit. The navigation today wasn’t easy. ‘Well done’ to my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz who did an outstanding job.”
Number of the day
A special victory for the Race Touareg: Since the launch of the cross-country rally prototype program in 2004 the stage win of Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz today marks the 125th stage win in total. At the Dakar Rally the fastest time set on the stage between San Salvador de Jujuy and Calama amounted to the 40th single success.
Standings after leg 04, San Salvador (RA)–Calama (RCH); 207/761 km SS 04/total
Pos. Team Vehicle Leg 04 Total time 1 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 1h 57m 09s (1); 11h 09m 14s 2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 1h 57m 59s (2) + 4m 24s 3 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); BMW X3 CC; 1h 58m 31s (3) + 5m 41s 4 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 1h 59m 26s (4) + 19m 14s 5 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B); BMW X3 CC; 2h 03m 05s (8) + 27m 45s 6 Orlando Terranova/Filipe Palmeiro (ARG/P); BMW X3 CC; 2h 01m 13s (6) + 33m 11s 7 Leonid Novitskiy/Andreas Schulz (RUS/D); BMW X3 CC; 2h 07m 44s (9) + 49m 40s 8 Guilherme Spinelli/Youssef Haddad (BR/BR); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 2h 08m 32s (10) + 59m 45s 9 Nani Roma/Gilles Picard (E/F); Nissan Navara; 2h 10m 48s (12) + 1h 08m 32s 10 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 1h 59m 52s (5) + 1h 08m 36s
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