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VW driver de Villiers expands lead
On the 29th Dakar Rally’s longest special stage with a length of 589 kilometres Volkswagen further expanded its lead: The factory pairing Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany), pictured right, on the eighth leg from Atar to Tichit in Mauritania set the best time of 6.35 minutes ahead of the French Mitsubishi driver Stéphane Peterhansel.

Having clinched his third stage victory, Giniel de Villiers in the Race Touareg expanded his overall advantage by 29.34 minutes to 31.13 minutes.
New runner-up on the leader board is Stéphane Peterhansel, after Carlos Sainz suffered a 1:04-hour loss due to a power steering defect, finishing the stage in seventh position. The Spaniard and his French co-driver Michel Périn dropped from second to fourth place overall behind de Villiers, Peterhansel and Luc Alphand (France/Mitsubishi). Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa) in the Race Touareg sporting the livery of partners Red Bull, Castrol as well as BP/Aral finished the stage in fifth place with a 27.22-minute gap. Despite punctures and navigation errors costing the English-speaking duo valuable time, it moved up from eighth to seventh position overall.
In the evening of this so-called marathon leg regular service by the team, which travels directly to the finish of Monday’s stage in Nema, is prohibited. In Tichit drivers and co-drivers, with support from the race truck crews, have to prepare the Race Touareg prototypes for the ninth stage that will take them over a 497-kilometre distance to Nema on Monday.
Volkswagen has been continuously leading the 29th edition of the Dakar Rally with the Race Touareg 2 since the event started on 6 January, having claimed six of the eight possible stage victories so far.
Standings after stage 8, Atar (MR) – Tichit (MR); 589/626 km stage 8/overall
Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Stage 8; Total time
1. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 7h31m52s (1st); 27h35m53s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 7h38m27s (2nd) + 31m13s
3. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 7h41m03s (3rd) + 43s04m
4. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 8h36m04s (7th) + 1h05m51s
5. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Alain Guehennec (QT/F); BMW X3; 7h44m01s (4th) + 1h44m14s
6. Jean-Louis Schlesser/Arnaud Debron (F/F); Schlesser Buggy; 8h20m42s (6 h) + 2h00m59s
7. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 7h59m14s (5th) + 2h18m01s
8. Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (J/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 9h00m55s (9th) + 2h40m33s
9. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 9h10m01s (10th) + 4h16m35s

Coming up…
Montag, 15 January, Tichit (MR) – Nema (MR): 494 km stage/497 km total. The ninth special stage of the Dakar Rally is a true classic. The route leads through the desert. On flat tracks orientation is difficult, which makes navigation an extremely difficult task. The terrain is varied: In addition to a large amount of sandy stretches, the stage contains stony tracks and camel grass hills as well.

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