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After the two European legs of the Dakar Rally Volkswagen will be starting as the leading team in Africa on Monday.

Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn in their Volkswagen Race Touareg celebrated their first stage victory in the 545-kilometre special stage leading from Portimaõ to Malaga, ahead of Nani Roma and Luc Alphand (both Mitsubishi).

It was the second stage victory for Volkswagen following the success claimed by Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz in a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 from Team Lagos the day before, and the Race Touareg’s 43rd stage victory since 2004. The Portuguese Carlos Sousa continues to lead the rally, while Sainz improved to second place overall in this demanding special stage.

Tight corners along deep abysses and difficult stretches through the mountains marked the second competition day of the 8,000-kilometre desert classic.

The runner-up in last year’s "Dakar”, Giniel de Villiers, and his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz completed the Volkswagen trio at the top of the leader board after a no-risk drive that saw them finish the stage in sixth place. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford follow in position seven overall.

A major loss of time was suffered by Ari Vatanen: the four-time "Dakar" winner from Finland made a driving mistake while running through water that cost him more than an hour and a half. Despite this mishap, Vatanen finished on his own strength.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"We’ve had a relatively good day today. The second stage victory of a Volkswagen is perfect, while Mitsubishi – as expected – made up some ground. Three Volkswagen cars continue as the front runners. Whereas during the first leg on soft sand intuitive driving was of the essence, the second leg in the mountains challenged the drivers at low speeds. While driving through a water passage that was handled by all the other drivers and vehicles without any problem, Ari made a mistake. Unfortunately this cost him over an hour and a half, but the rally is still long.”
#301 – Giniel de Villiers (RSA), 6th place (leg) / 3rd place overall
"This was a very big challenge. There were deep abysses galore as well as obscured bends. We were going at quite a nice pace and are happy with the result because it means we don’t need to open the course in Africa. Starting with the stages in Africa, Dirk, my co-driver, will really be put to the test as well.”
#303 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place (leg) / 2nd place overall
"I’m happy about having completed the European legs in Portugal and Spain so flawlessly. The stage in the mountains was tight and twisty. It suited me very well although I wouldn’t compare it with the special stages with which I’m familiar from the World Rally Championship – so I didn’t necessarily have any advantage.”
#305 – Mark Miller (USA), 14th place (leg) / 7th place overall
"The rally is huge fun already. The day was difficult and a special stage in the mountains certainly isn’t my forte.”
#308 – Ari Vatanen (FIN), 113th place overall
"I made a mistake today: I went into a deep water passage too quickly, which caused water to enter the engine compartment. After that, we changed the air filter, had to check several technical details and, ultimately, finished the stage on our own strength.”
Snippets from the Volkswagen bivouac

- Rally moves to Africa: After the two special stages in Portugal the Dakar Rally participants are now on their way to Africa. For the passage, the organisers chartered seven ferries carrying the support teams – including the 23 supporting vehicles of the Volkswagen factory team that are sent from Algeciras to Tangier. Meanwhile, on Sunday evening, the four Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 vehicles and the team’s three race-trucks are taking the night ferry from Malaga to Nador where the first African stage is scheduled to start on Monday morning.

- Journalists in the Touareg: A total of 146 journalists are observing the Dakar Rally from the start in Portugal all the way to the finish in Senegal. In addition to the 56 media representatives travelling on the aircraft of the organiser, ASO, from one bivouac to the other, 36 press cars with altogether 110 reporters have been deployed. Among others, the toughest cross-country rally includes three Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI vehicles – each accommodating three journalists and their luggage – providing safe and comfortable transportation across the distance covering a total of 8,000 kilometres.

Three questions to Carlos Sousa (Team Lagos)
As the local hero, you did fulfil the expectations of your home audience, didn’t you?
"It’s great competing in front of such a superb backdrop and, what’s more, to be leading the Dakar Rally. For Portugal, this important rally is very significant. It’s the first time that I’m competing in this desert classic with Team Lagos and the entering team headed by Phoenix’ team boss Ernst Moser in a Volkswagen Race Touareg that is simply fantastic.”
What is the strategy you used for these special stages?
"On the first stage my German co-driver Andreas Schulz and I of course gave our best. When we were running in front with such a clear advantage a real euphoria erupted. We even needed to restrain ourselves a bit in order to keep from overdoing things on the second leg.”
What are your plans for the upcoming stages in Africa?
"We’ve got an ideal starting base: we’re running in front of the overall standings, but don’t have to start on the first stage in Morocco as the first team. With regard to navigating, the fact that we’re only the ninth car to start the stage and don’t have to open the course is probably a major advantage.”

Standings after stage 2, Portimao (P) – Malaga (E); 67/545 km stage 2/total
Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Stage 1; Total time
1. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 1h01m19s (9th); 2h21m57s
2. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 59m26s (1st) + 45s
3. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 1h01m00s (6th) + 2m12s
4. Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz Senra (E/E); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 59m55s (2nd) + 3m29s
5. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 59m57s (4th) + 3m55s
6. Guerlain Chicherit/Matthieu Baumel (F/F); BMW X3; 1h01m16s (8th) + 4m49s
7. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 1h03m50s (14th) + 6m27s
8. Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (J/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 1h00m50s (5th) + 6m47s
9. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Alain Guehennec (QT/F); BMW X3; 1h03m52s (15th) + 8m33s
10. Christian Lavieille/François Borsotto (F/F); Nissan Pick-up; 1h02m32s (10th) + 9m24s
113. Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons (FIN/I); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2h35m55s + 1h37m14s
Coming up…
 < br />Monday, 8 January: Stage 3, Nador (MR) – Er Rachidia (MR): 252 km stage/648 km total. The first African leg is also a very challenging one: Many directional changes on the rough stretches in the north of Morocco make navigation more difficult. In the evening the first overnight in the bivouac on the airfield in Er Rachidia is on the agenda.
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