Volkswagen defended its lead on the eleventh of the 14 stages in the Dakar Rally: The three Volkswagen Race Touareg cars continue to lead the overall standings after the second Andes crossing from Chile to Argentina.

The name of the potential winner still remains wide open: The leaders Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) lost 5 minutes 38 seconds of their lead to Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D) and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA). The closest rivals – Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F) in an X-raid BMW – are already 2 hours 9 minutes behind the leader in fourth place.
Sainz was forced to accept a setback on the descent of the Andes from an altitude of around 3,000 metres: Two slow punctures threw him back. In the overall standings he now leads by only 4 minutes 28 seconds from his team mate Al-Attiyah from Qatar. Mark Miller is still third 23 minutes 50 seconds behind. Best Volkswagen drivers on the day were Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D): Last year’s winners recorded the third fastest stage time ahead of Al-Attiyah and Miller and remain seventh overall. Victory on the day went to Guerlain Chicherit/Tina Thörner (F/S) in an X-raid BMW.
The eleventh Dakar Rally day was dominated by tight gravel sections, made great demands of both man and machine through river crossings and formed a challenge for the brakes with a long downhill section at the end of the stage. On the numerous rocky and stony sections the drivers aimed to avoid getting punctures.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"Three Race Touareg cars at the top of the leader board – we can still be satisfied with this. Carlos was thrown back today by two tyre failures, however his position in the overall standings remains unchanged. At the moment Carlos and Nasser are fighting among themselves at the head of the field – the next few days will be very exciting. All four Race Touareg vehicles again ran faultlessly on this demanding stage in high altitude.”
#303 – Carlos Sainz (E), 9th place day / 1st position overall
"Two slow punctures cost us a lot of time today. The first held only 30 kilometres, the second 40 before we had to change. The first time Stéphane Peterhansel in the X-raid BMW overtook me and the second time my team mate Mark Miller. From then on we spent the rest of the day in dust. Although this stage was short it was anything but easy. I’m happy that were able to retain the overall lead.”

Standings after leg 11, Santiago (RCH)–San Juan (RA); 220/434 km SS 11/total
1    Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E)    Volkswagen Race Touareg 2    2h 42m 10s (9)    39h 16m 55s
2    Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D)    Volkswagen Race Touareg 2    2h 36m 32s (4)    + 4m 28s
3    Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA)    Volkswagen Race Touareg 2    2h 37m 41s (5)    + 23m 50s
4    Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F)    BMW X3 CC    2h 37m 43s (6)    + 2h 09m 53s
5    Guerlain Chicherit/Tina Thörner (F/S)    BMW X3 CC    2h 34m 51s (1) + 2h 23m 40s
6    Carlos Sousa/Matthieu Baumel (P/F)    Mitsubishi Racing Lancer    2h 42m 17s (10)    + 3h 54m 12s
7    Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D)    Volkswagen Race Touareg 2    2h 35m 30s (3) + 4h 39m 33s
8    Guilherme Spinelli/Filipe Palmeiro (BR/P)    Mitsubishi Racing Lancer    2h 45m 27s (12)    + 5h 28m 25s
9    Orlando Terranova/Pascal Maimon (RA/F)    Mitsubishi Racing Lancer    2h 35m 21s (2)    + 5h 33m 42s
10    Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA)    Hummer    2h 39m 52s (7)    + 5h 41m 38s

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