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With a stage victory Volkswagen factory driver Carlos Sainz (Spain) and co-driver Michel Périn (France) took the lead in the UAE Desert Challenge.

In the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 Sainz clinched a 3.43-minute lead over Mitsubishi driver and “Dakar" winner Luc Alphand on the 284-kilometre opening leg. Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons in the second Race Touareg took fourth place on the fast leg from Abu Dhabi to Moreeb ahead of the Portuguese Carlos Sousa in the Volkswagen Race Touareg entered by Team Lagos.

On Tuesday the second leg of the UAE Desert Challenge through high sand dunes will take the teams on a 304-kilometre loop around the desert bivouac at Moreeb.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"The rally was started relatively late, so the teams were driving at very high temperatures throughout the day. That was extremely strenuous for drivers and co-drivers. All three Race Touareg cars were running like clockwork. It’s great that Carlos Sainz has taken the lead. At the same time, though, we should take it for granted that we’ll stay in front all the way to the end. After all, it will be a long, tough and tactical rally."

#205 - Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place (leg) / 1st place overall
"We had a good leg. The Race Touareg was running perfectly. Michel did a super job, we were on the right track today throughout. It was an advantage to start the leg late. After our stage victory we’ll be the first car to hit the track on Tuesday and due to this starting position we’re expecting to have a difficult day."

#207 - Ari Vatanen (FIN), 4th place (leg) / 4th place overall
"There were loads of opportunities for making mistakes. All the more delighted are we about having had a day without any problems. We overtook Stéphane Peterhansel. After that, we got stuck in the sand for two minutes and Stéphane passed us again. At the end of the special stage I was having difficulties with the extreme heat because with outside temperatures of 36 degrees the cockpit gets very hot too."

#208 - Carlos Sousa (P) - Team Lagos, 5th place (leg) / 5th place overall
"A hot and quick leg. In the beginning we had difficulties in the dust to overtake the cars in front of us and lost our rhythm a bit. Later, we were driving alone almost the whole time. At times, we had a thrilling duel with Stéphane Peterhansel and overtook each other."

Standings after leg 1, Abu Dhabi (UAE) - Moreeb (UAE); 284/456 km leg 1/overall

Pos., Team, Vehicle, Leg 1, Total time
1. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 2h42m55s (1st), 2h45m47s
2. Luc Alphand/Gilles Piccard (F/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, 2h46m38s (2nd) + 3.43s
3. Nasser Al Attiyah/Alain Guehennec (Q/F), BMW X3, 2h48m13s (3rd) + 5.25s
4. Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons (FIN/I), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 2h49m31s (4th) + 6.50s
5. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D), Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, 2h50m15s (5th) + 7.24s
6. Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (J/F), Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, 2h53m28s (6th) + 10.36s

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