The Volkswagen factory drivers Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) increased their lead at the top of the Dakar Rally standings on the eleventh stage. On the section from Chilecito to San Juan they recorded their fourth stage victory in the Race Touareg 3 and benefited at the same time from the bad luck of their team mates Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E). Last year’s winners from Spain dropped back due to damaged car, but still have the chance of a podium finish. New second placed duo is Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in another Race Touareg.
 
Carlos Sainz, up to now second in the overall standings 12 minutes 37 seconds behind, led the cross country rally’s eleventh stage for almost 400 kilometres. Damage to the car then forced the Spaniard to make repairs, during which Sainz lost a lot of time. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) stopped in the stage to help their team mates. Both crews are still underway towards the finish of the day’s stage.
 
Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel in the X-raid-BMW reached the stage finish second 1 minute 13 seconds behind Nasser Al-Attiyah. The third best time went to yesterday’s stage winner Giniel de Villiers. He now lies 51 minutes 49 seconds behind Al-Attiyah in the overall standings and 48 minutes 56 seconds ahead of Peterhansel.
 
Originally the eleventh stage at 622 kilometres would have been the longest of the entire rally. However, rain in the area around San Juan most recently caused deep erosion and new gorges. For safety reasons the organiser therefore cut 93 kilometres from the final section thereby reducing the distance to 530 kilometres. To begin the teams crossed canyon terrain at the foot of the Andes; afterwards they conquered a climb to over 3,200 metres before the stage ended at about 800 metres above sea level.
 
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"A proverb in motorsport is – ‘To finish first, first you have to finish’. Congratulations to Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk for their performance today. It was a very exciting day for everyone. Carlos Sainz suffered from suspension damage. We still don’t know what happened. We have the information that Mark Miller stopped and together with Ralph Pitchford and Lucas Cruz helped to repair the damage. Both cars are running again. Today we say that the Dakar Rally remains merciless and is always good for a surprise.”
 
Volkswagen Motorsport public website: www.volkswagen-motorsport.com
 
2011 Dakar Rally info: www.dakar.com
 
Volkswagen "Dakar” iPhone app: www.volkswagen-motorsport.com/dakar_iPhone
 

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