VW delighted with Dakar victory
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, January 18th 2009, 10:45 GMT|
Volkswagen Motorsport boss Kris Nissen said his team should be extremely proud of their historic Dakar Rally triumph.
Giniel de Villiers led VW teammate Mark Miller home in a dominant one-two, as the team became the first to win the famous rally with a diesel-fuelled car.
VW's diesel rally raid project began in 2004, but until this year they had been unable to overcome the Mitsubishis in the Dakar. However Mitsubishi's own switch to diesel with the new Racing Lancer failed to pay off, with the 12-time rally winners losing three of their four works cars early on and only taking one stage win, while VW monopolised the top three positions for much of the event.
"We did it: we wanted to be the first automobile manufacturer to win the Dakar Rally with diesel power. We have now managed to do this, and with a one-two victory at that," said Nissen.
"Volkswagen can truly be proud of this historic triumph. Celebrating a one-two victory at this extremely tough rally is a major achievement."
VW also became the first winners of the Dakar in its new South American location, which Nissen believes only added to the challenge.
"We not only beat our strongest rivals, Mitsubishi and X-raid-BMW, but prevailed against the Dakar Rally itself," he said.
"It was more challenging, demanding and murderous on the material than ever. But Volkswagen was tougher, more reliable. Three of our four cars reached the finish, and not one of the Race Touareg vehicles retired due to a technical problem."
Winner de Villiers had moved from a distant third to first with just two days to go when his teammate Carlos Sainz crashed out of the lead and Miller lost a lot of time.
"This victory is worth more than any of the titles I won in touring car racing," said de Villiers.
"The twelfth leg was the crucial day. Just before it I'd thought we'd be finishing in third place. I kept thinking about how our rival Stephane Peterhansel lost the rally with a huge lead one day before the finish in 2003. And so we again led the rally after the twelfth leg as well.
"The last few kilometres were so tricky. I was actually driving so badly - not taking proper lines through the corners - because I was looking at the trip metre and ticking the kilometres off, and then when we crossed the red board it was just an incredible feeling. Finally we'd done it."