Volkswagen took the lead on the so far longest and toughest special stage of the Dakar Rally. As many as three Race Touareg vehicles are setting the pace at the front of the field after five days, both in the stage and overall classifications. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) are leading the cross-country classic with an advantage of 4m 37s. Runners-up are their team-mates Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D), followed with a gap of 9m 39s by Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) who celebrated their first ever stage win at the Dakar Rally. Consequently, the first five days of the closely fought rally through Argentina and Chile have seen five different winners.
On the way from Copiapó to Antofagasta, which led across elevations of almost 3,000 metres, the participants contested the special stage that – at 483 kilometres – was the second-longest one of the rally. The X-raid team with Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F) that had been ranking in first place so far lost well over an hour’s time in the Atacama desert. Now, the Americans Robby Gordon/Andy Grider in the Hummer are the Volkswagen trio’s immediate rivals in the overall standings.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
“This was a long and very, very good day for Volkswagen. All drivers and co-drivers did a super job. Despite our exploits in the stage and interim classifications we’ve got to remain calm and concentrated because the ‘Dakar’ itself has to be defeated first. We’ve still got more than 3,000 kilometres in tough terrain to tackle.”
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