Volkswagen will field five Race Touaregs as the team bids to defend one of the most challenging international motorsport events, the Dakar Rally.
Taking place across the South American continent for the second consecutive year, the 31st ‘Dakar’ Rally will see the five Volkswagen teams encountering some of the most demanding terrain on the planet.
The 2010 ‘Dakar’ Rally course starts from Buenos Aires in Argentina on 1 January. The five teams will be tested to the limits, travelling 9,000 kilometres (5,625 miles) across the Andes, through the Atacama desert’s demanding dune fields in the north of Chile and back, with altitudes exceeding 4,700 metres above sea-level. It was over this terrain that Volkswagen made history in 2009 with the Race Touareg becoming the first diesel-powered vehicle to win the legendary event.
The Race Touaregs, powered by a 2.5-litre TDI developing 280 PS, won ten out of a possible 13 stage wins on the way to clinching a famous one-two victory.
Last year’s winning pairing of Giniel de Villiers (ZA) / Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) return to the Race Touareg cockpit, alongside fellow Dakar Rally veterans Carlos Sainz (E) / Lucas Cruz (E) and Mark Miller (USA) / Ralph Pitchford (ZA). They are joined by Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) / Timo Gottschalk (D) and the most recent addition to the Volkswagen Motorsport driver line-up Brazilian partnership Mauricio Neves and Clécio Maestrelli.
Neves brings a wealth of experience to the Volkswagen Motorsport team, as the most successful Brazilian driver in cross-country rally racing. He made his competition debut in the Race Touareg prototype earlier this year at the Rallye dos Sertões, nicknamed ‘Little Dakar’, clinching a class podium and overall sixth place.
Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Kris Nissen explains ‘At the 2009 Dakar Rally, we showed that the Race Touareg is not only the most reliable but also the fastest cross-country rally vehicle in the world and that the Volkswagen Group’s TDI technology is superior to other diesel power concepts. We have put together a powerful driver’s squad and we want to successfully defend our title at the upcoming ‘Dakar’.’