While Volkswagen factory drivers Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) recorded their first stage win on the tenth of 13 legs, their team mates established themselves clearly at the top of the Dakar Rally leader board. The duo increased their advantage in the overall standings to 12 minutes 37 seconds on the difficult dune filled stage from Copiapó in Chile to Chilecito in Argentina. Last year’s winners Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E) follow in second place.
Dramatic scenes unfolded among the notorious white dunes close to Fiambalá: Nasser Al-Attiyah initially led the stage before Stéphane Peterhansel in the X-raid-BMW took control. Then Nasser Al-Attiyah transformed a 2 minute 30 second deficit into a 1 minute 18 second advantage at the highest point of the route in a dune mountain range. However, approaching the end of the stage, between the fifth and sixth way points, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz caught the leader unawares by selecting the cleverest route – and thus took a sensational victory on the day. Dirk von Zitzewitz immediately found the right direction at a junction and did not follow the tracks left by Peterhansel. Nasser Al-Attiyah dropped back to fourth place on the day’s stage losing a total of 8 minutes 54 seconds. As Carlos Sainz even lost 18 minutes 13 seconds on the stage Al-Attiyah was able to extend his overall lead. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) lost 1 hour 4 minutes 18 seconds on the stage, but remains fifth overall.
Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) completes Volkswagen’s one-two-three in the standings behind Al-Attiyah and Sainz.
The tenth stage took competitors from Chile back to Argentina again. In the process the teams scaled the rally’s highest point – the 4,725 metre high Paso San Francisco.


Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"A very short stage which was incredibly dramatic and very difficult. The navigation was anything but easy and the sand very soft. No driver pair got through today without small mistakes. The Race Touareg 3 has once again mastered the challenging conditions in great style. I’m delighted that Giniel and Dirk won this difficult stage.”
#300 – Carlos Sainz (E), 5th place leg / 2nd position overall
"That was an absolutely catastrophic day for us. We got bogged down on a dune after only five kilometres. On top of this came a puncture later. We got lost several times, especially at the end of the stage when we didn’t find the correct exit from a river bed. Furthermore we damaged the gearbox, which also slowed us down. So, all in all it could have been better. But also worse: The deficit in the overall standings is not unassailable. We’ll give our utmost up until the final metre to try and win.”

#302 – Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q), 4th place leg / 1st position overall
"The start of the stage went really well for us. We quickly found our rhythm and rapidly overtook our team mate Carlos Sainz, who had got bogged down on a dune. We drove at a good pace to the end. Unfortunately we didn’t find the right way immediately and looked where all the top teams had looked for the route. Only our team mates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz were cleverer than everybody else. Congratulations on winning the stage.”
#304 – Mark Miller (USA), 8th place leg / 5th position overall
"A challenging day for man and material. To start we did everything right, my co-driver Ralph Pitchford directed us perfectly to the way points. Unfortunately we emerged over the crest of a dune with too little momentum and got bogged down. All in all it was, however, a really good but tough ‘Dakar’ stage. It could have been quite a bit different today with a little more luck.”
#308 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 1st place leg / 3rd position overall
"Today was our day. I think that I did just as good a job as my co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. However, at the end his stroke of genius made all the difference. It’s fabulous also to finally win a stage in this ‘Dakar’, even though it came a little later than I’d hoped. On the way there were plenty of difficulties to overcome. You had to keep an eye on the engine temperature, every one of the top teams got lost at least once. On top of this sand, sand and more sand which was very soft. The final part was a real labyrinth of washed our river beds and canyons. A lot of teams will still be searching for the right way there today.”

Number of the day

On the section between Copiapó and Chilecito Volkswagen contested its 100th "Dakar” stage since the first prototype’s first event in 2004.


Standings after leg 10, Copiapó (RCH)–Chilecito (RA); 176/862 km SS 10/total
Pos. Team Vehicle Leg 10 Total time
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 3h 02m 09s (4); 33h 58m 34s
2 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (E/E); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 3h 11m 28s (5) + 12m 37s
3 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 2h 53m 15s (1) + 46m 57s
4 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); BMW X3 CC; 2h 58m 53s (3) + 1h 39m 32s
5 Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 3; 3h 57m 33s (8) + 3h 40m 43s
6 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (PL/B); BMW X3 CC; 2h 57m 38s (2) + 3h 49m 37s
7 Ricardo Leal dos Santos/Paulo Fiuza (P/P); BMW X3 CC; 3h 24m 06s (6) + 5h 48m 25s
8 Christian Lavieille/Jean-Michel Polato (F/F); Nissan Proto; 3h 36m 38s (7) + 6h 27m 23s
9 Guilherme Spinelli/Youssef Haddad (BR/BR); Mitsubishi Racing Lancer; 4h 26m 42s (10) + 7h 25m 57s

Coming up next …

Thursday, 13 January: The Dakar Rally competitors have to contend with the final stage dominated specifically by deep, anthracite coloured sand in the section between Chilecito and San Juan. Soft powder sand, known in local vernacular as "Guadal” and similar to Fesh-Fesh in Africa, makes demands of man and equipment as well as the stony and bumpy sections that are extremely demanding on the suspension.

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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