Volkswagen wins Dakar Rally for the second time in row
Volkswagen has won the legendary Dakar Rally for the second time in succession. The Volkswagen duos and their TDI powered Race Touareg prototypes celebrated a one-two-three podium lockout at the finish of the toughest challenge in motorsport.
In the process, Carlos Sainz / Lucas Cruz (E/E) triumphed by only 2 minutes 12 seconds ahead of team mates Nasser Al-Attiyah / Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) in a thrilling finale on the closing 202 kilometre sprint on the 14th and final rally day. Mark Miller / Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) claimed third position while last year’s winners Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) finished seventh.
‘I’m incredibly proud of our team. It’s stunning what the drivers, co-drivers and the entire team have achieved on every single day of the Dakar Rally. With this one-two-three triumph Volkswagen Motorsport even surpassed its own lofty goals,’ says Dr. rer. pol. h. c. Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, Member of the Board of Management at Volkswagen AG for procurement, at the finish of the final stage.
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen explains: ‘Three weeks ago a highly motivated Volkswagen team came with the goal of successfully defending the Dakar title won last year. Volkswagen has achieved something historical with this one-two-three. We are not only unbeaten in South America, we are also the only manufacturer to have won the world’s hardest rally up to now with diesel technology. The Volkswagen drivers fought amongst themselves for victory all the way to the chequered flag – sometimes by hard but fair means. This is exactly how we imagine motorsport to be. My congratulations therefore go to every Volkswagen duo who would all have been worthy winners.’
The Wolfsburg based brand remains the only manufacturer to have won the car category of the Dakar Rally with diesel power. TDI technology was already dominant in 2009 in Argentina and Chile. In addition to the efficiency of the Volkswagen Group’s diesel direct injection technology the Race Touareg’s reliability was the key to the 2010 Dakar victory. Despite the extreme demands, the powerful 300 hp Race Touareg proved to be not only the most robust, but also the fastest vehicle recording seven of a 14 possible stage victories and eleven days in the lead credited to the four-wheel drive racers from Wolfsburg.
The result of the rally kept observers and fans alike on tenterhooks up to the finish line. Sainz / Cruz, Al-Attiyah / Gottschalk and Miller / Pitchford led in this order since the fifth Dakar Rally stage. However, at no point did any driver duo have an unassailable lead. In a strong final burst Al-Attiyah / Gottschalk edged ever closer, repeatedly taking seconds from their Volkswagen team mates Sainz / Cruz and, in doing so, staged an open and hard duel for the leading position. The Qatari / German duo made up ground specifically in the dune sections – which once again formed one of the Dakar’s core elements – while the Spanish pairing of Sainz / Cruz controlled proceedings on the fast, twisty gravel sections.
As varied as the fight in the overall standings was – two stage wins went to Sainz / Cruz, four to Al-Attiyah / Gottschalk, one to Miller / Pitchford – so challenging proved the 32nd running of the Dakar Rally. In addition to the varied stages across soft, powder-like sand and through towering and endless dune fields of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, there were also gravel sections and tracks through enormous boulder fields on the agenda. The multi-faceted acid test with its terrain changing several times a day, two Andes crossings, passages through the world’s driest desert, as well as parts of the legendary Pampa was mastered brilliantly by the Volkswagen Race Touareg. One Race Touareg was always found in the top-three of each stage at the finish, 27 of a possible 42 top-three positions on the 14 stages went to Wolfsburg.
For the new Dakar champions, Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz, a winning streak continued in front of millions of fans lining the daily stages in Argentina and Chile. As newly formed duo in the Volkswagen Race Touareg the Spanish pair remained unbeaten in their third competition together and secured a new record in Dakar history. Never before have two Spaniards won the legendary desert rally’s automobile category. Sainz / Cruz had previously won the Rallye dos Sertões in June and July 2009 as well as the Silk Way Rally in September 2009.
The Volkswagen statistics in cross country rallying make for equally impressive reading – unbeaten since January 2009 and with its second Dakar triumph since 2009 continues the Volkswagen Group’s success story with TDI technology. After Audi’s Le Mans victories between 2006 and 2008 and winning the World Touring Car Championship with SEAT in 2008 and 2009, Volkswagen has been successful at the Dakar in 2009 and 2010 thanks to TDI Power.