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Volkswagen has welcomed the tough and difficult 8,696-kilometre route of the 2007 Dakar Rally that was presented in Paris on November 16.

For the second time in a row, the desert classic will start in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on 6 January, ending 15 days later – on 21 January – in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. For the 186 participating cars – including the four Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 vehicles entered by the factory team – 15 legs through Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal will be on the agenda. On the 14 special stages a total of 5,010 timed kilometres must be completed.

"A long, strenuous and difficult Dakar Rally is awaiting us. However, an assessment of how demanding the individual legs are in detail can only be made when the roadbook is issued the night before. The route presented today only provides a general orientation. As in previous years, the 2007 ‘Dakar’ is a mix of rally-like routes in Morocco, difficult stretches with lots of sand in Mauritania and narrow, tough distances in Senegal. The organizers attached a lot of importance to staging the various legs far away from towns or villages in order to ensure a safe rally,” Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen said, commenting on the plans of the "Dakar" organizers.
 
After the Moroccan stage finishes in Er Rachidia, Quarzazate and Tan Tan the participants will reach Mauritania on 11 January. Following the stations in Zouérat and Atâr, there will be a day of rest on 13 January. After that, the longest leg of the "Dakar”, featuring 589 classified kilometres, to Tichit in Mauritania will be driven. On 16 and 18 January stage finishes in Mali, Timbuktu and Kayes will follow.

From 19 to 20 January the last two special stages on the way to Dakar will be on the agenda. A special focus will be on the legs around Tichit and Timbuktu. On these special stages on the so-called cross-country legs the teams are not permitted to perform any service on the vehicles. Between these two "acid tests” for man and material there is only one regular stage finish in Néma, Mauritania.
 
"Particularly in the second half following the day of rest, we’re expecting a nail-biting ‘Dakar’. The fact that the route leads far into the eastern part of the country to Timbuktu is a welcome challenge for us," said Volkswagen factory driver Giniel de Villiers, who, as the runner-up in the 2006 "Dakar”, celebrated the best-ever result so far of a diesel prototype.
 
On the final day the 2007 Dakar Rally will feature a change to the previous format. The traditional finale around Lac Rose will this time be staged as a separate Grand Prix. This means that for the first time in the "Dakar’s” history the final result will be determined on the eve of the round’s last day following the leg from Tambacounda to Dakar. On 21 January a loop around the finish, Dakar, will conclude the event.
 
Volkswagen will present its entire "Dakar" team at the Essen Motor Show (Volkswagen stand, hall 3) at 12 o’clock on 30 November. Alongside Motorsport Director Kris Nissen, the four driver teams, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/South Africa), Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (Spain/France), Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons (Finland/Italy) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (South Africa/Germany) will present themselves.

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