VW leads Dakar Rally at halfway point

At the halfway point of the Dakar Rally, Volkswagen holds the top two positions overall and all four Race Touareg 3s continue to set the pace over each grueling stage. The event, which covers more than 9,600 km though South America, is currently led by the 2010 Dakar winning duo of Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz, with Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk less than three minutes behind.

But the competition is not far behind the two leading Volkswagen factory teams. A battle between three rivals continues to dominate the action at the front of the field with X-raid BMW driver Stéphane Peterhansel leading part of the sixth leg from Iquique to Arica before suffering several punctures which dropped him down the order. The two quickest Volkswagen duos subsequently battled for a win on the 456-kilometre stage – the second-longest of the event so far.

After Peterhansel’s time loss on the latest stage, Sainz took the lead but on the final 100 kilometers Al-Attiyah temporarily converted a gap of 1m 27s into a 14-second advantage. In the end, Sainz secured his fifth stage win with the Race Touareg 3 and, after 4h 53m of driving, reached the finish just nine seconds in front of his team-mate Al-Attiyah. This result moves the Qatari driver into second place overall.

Giniel de Villiers and his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz finished the stage in third place and the winners of the 2009 Dakar continue to rank in fourth place overall. Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford completed the 1-2-3-4 stage result of the TDI-powered Race Touareg 3, and moved up to sixth place in the overall standings.

Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director commented: ‘The 1-2-3-4 stage win is a fantastic result. The entire Volkswagen squad did everything right today and I want to express my sincere thanks to all of them. Now the team have deserved a break, but like every year there will be a lot of work to do on the upcoming rest day. During this important service, the cars will be prepared for the second half of the rally with new parts. To be in front in the end we first have to defeat the Dakar and then our rivals.’

Standings after leg 06, Iquique (RCH)–Arica (RCH); 456/721 km SS 06/total

Pos Team Vehicle Leg 06 Total time
1 Sainz / Cruz (E/E) Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 4h 53m 53s (1) 20h 39m 41s
2 Al-Attiyah / Gottschalk (Q/D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 4h 54m 02s (2) + 2m 42s
3 Peterhansel / Cottret (F/F) BMW X3 CC 5h 06m 18s (5) + 14m 51s
4 de Villiers / von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 5h 03m 42s (3) + 31m 09s
5 Holowczyc / Fortin (PL/B) BMW X3 CC 5h 19m 19s (6) + 1h 13m 19s
6 Miller / Pitchford (USA/ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 5h 03m 43s (4) + 1h 35m 53s
7 Terranova / Palmeiro (ARG/P) BMW X3 CC 5h 32m 48s (8) + 1h 37m 54s
8 Spinelli / Haddad (BR/BR) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer 5h 38m 15s (9) + 2h 17m 56s
9 Guerlain Chicherit/Michel Périn Mini Countryman 5h 22m 27s (7) + 2h 45m 25s
10 Lavieille / Polato (F/F) Nissan Proto 5h 47m 23s (11) + 3h 07m 54s

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