Wednesday, October 01, 2008

VW Ready for DAKAR South America Rally 2009

The new “Dakar“: four Race Touareg cars to start in South America
100 days until the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile

From Wolfsburg, Beerlandia (25 September 2008). A new continent, the same challenge: on 03 January 2009 – after 29 rounds in Africa – the legendary Dakar Rally 2009 will start in South America for the first time in its history. Among the vehicles moving across the starting ramp in Buenos Aires will be four Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 cars. The countdown for the desert classic has long begun: exactly 100 days from now the "Dakar” will start. It will cover 15 legs through Argentina and Chile from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back, crossing landscapes that make extreme demands on man and material. The Volkswagen team is tackling the hot phase before the start to this new era backed by the self-confidence of successfully completed rallies and the awareness of facing a big task.The preparations of the four-factory fielded Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 vehicles for Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D), Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk (D/D) as well as logistics planning are in full swing.

By 15 November the parts and equipment will be loaded on the service trucks, on 26 and 27 November the technical scrutineering of the support vehicles and subsequent shipping to South Africa is scheduled to take place in Le Havre (F). "As early as 100 days before the start the whole team is looking forward to the event with incredibly eager anticipation. The Dakar Rally’s debut in South America is one of the greatest challenges Volkswagen Motorsport has tackled so far,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "With two victories and a second place at three events, the Race Touareg 2 has been one of the most successful cars in 2008. At the ‘Dakar’ we will give everything to add an important win to this tally.

Everyone in the team knows that we’re strong enough to achieve this goal. But we also know that in sport – and particularly at the Dakar Rally – there are no guarantees, that we need to work with concentration and without compromise and that we’ve got strong rivals to beat. "New challenges every day: 9,000 km through Argentina and ChileThe 2009 "Dakar” offers new challenges galore. For the first time, the rally will be staged in South Africa. In a loop of roughly 9,000 kilometres, 6,000 of which are special stages, the route will lead from the start and finish in Buenos Aires through Argentina and Chile. Not only for the drivers and co-drivers this is truly new territory.

Due to the constantly changing landscapes along the route, the technicians and engineers will be put to the test in terms of vehicle set-up and maintenance as well. Maximum demands will be made on the logisticians before and during the "Dakar". The smooth supply with spare parts, the preparation of the support vehicles as well as meals and accommodation for the crew on location have to be organised for the desert classic in advance and during the event. More than 500 teams will tackle this challenge. As in previous years, the starting slots have been booked out for months.Landscape of extremes: heat and dryness, cold and altitude The "Dakar” principle, "Expect the Unexpected” applies particularly to the four teams. Twice during the rally the crossing of the Andes is on the agenda. Extreme heights of up to 3,250 metres above normal zero during the special stages and up to 4,600 metres during the liaison stages must be mastered. As usual, man and machine are preparing themselves for these strains in their typical, professional manner: the Volkswagen drivers completed an altitude training in the Alps, the 280-hp 2.5-litre TDI diesel engine is subjected to test runs in an environmental chamber simulating the thin air. Aside from the extreme elevation, the teams will be facing a mix of highly varied terrain in the midst of the South American summer. In addition to hard and stony sections at the beginning of the rally, the passage through the Atacama desert is on the agenda – the driest desert of the world with the highest dune fields. Good omen: first victory for the Race Touareg in Argentina.

The evolution of the Race Tourareg 2 powered by a 280-hp TDI diesel engine was driven by the dictum of "evolution, not revolution”. Optimisations of rear suspension kinematics and changes to the dampers were made. In addition, the driver’s vision was improved by a flatter bonnet and modified seating positions. The development stages were subjected to extensive testing for durability over thousands of kilometres. During the tests the distance of a Dakar Rally was simulated several times.

But also in competitive conditions the interaction between technology, team and drivers was extensively tested. During the preparation for the 2009 Dakar Rally the driver/co-driver pairings contested at least two rallies. The cross-country rally year of 2008 marked a successful season for Volkswagen: at the two rounds of the newly incepted Dakar Series Sainz/Périn secured victory in Central Europe and second place in Portugal. De Villiers/von Zitzewitz and Miller/Pitchford celebrated the one-two victory with Volkswagen at the Rallye dos Sertões in Brazil. The Race Touareg is ready to compete in Argentina – and thus is ready for the terrain on which - in 2005 at the Rallye Por las Pampas – it clinched its first ever victory. Altogether, the "Dakar” prototype scored nine wins at 24 events and 29 podium results.

Baja Racing