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At midpoint in the UAE Desert Challenge the Volkswagen factory drivers Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn in the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 set the third best time on the third special stage, confirming the vehicle’s competitiveness in the most trying terrain yet again.

Ari Vatanen and Fabrizia Pons in the second Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 were forced to retire from the 218-kilometre special stage leading through an area of dunes around the Moreeb bivouac due to a gearbox defect. Vatanen will resume the competition on the fourth special stage – at 378 kilometres the longest leg of the rally – on Thursday.

The Portuguese Carlos Sousa together with his German co-driver Andreas Schulz in a Race Touareg 2 of Team Lagos entered by the Volkswagen semi-works team Phoenix Sport is currently in fourth place overall.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"For drivers and co-drivers, this was a strenuous day, the sand was soft and hot, the pace very slow. The Race Touareg driven by Carlos Sainz was running perfectly, Ari Vatanen had a minor gearbox problem. We stopped him to prevent the defective part from suffering any further damage and to give us the chance to analyse it. We’re going to install a new gearbox and continue the rally on Thursday. Carlos Sousa did a superb job. Altogether, we’re optimistic because we’ve made great strides since the 2006 Dakar Rally and haven’t had any problems with overheating components despite the extremely high outside temperatures."
#205 – Carlos Sainz (E), 3rd place (leg)
"In the beginning we overtook a few vehicles, including Hiroshi Masuoka. After that, we were running alone and proceeded with a bit more caution. We’re satisfied with third place on this special stage because it was an extremely hot and strenuous leg. On the whole, I can tell that my self-confidence and performance on sand are increasing."
#207 – Ari Vatanen (FIN)
"We had a small gearbox problem. We lost sixth gear and got stuck in an uphill stretch for a short time. To analyse the defect we decided to play it safe and immediately returned to the service crew. On Thursday we’re going to continue the rally."
#208 – Carlos Sousa (P) – Team Lagos, 8th place (leg) / 4th place overall
"Today we drove yesterday’s leg in the opposite direction. We had a day without any problems whatsoever and are satisfied. With outside temperatures of 37 degrees it was extremely hot inside the cockpit as well and thus strenuous."
Standings after leg 3, Moreeb (UAE) – Moreeb (UAE); 218/323 km leg 3/overall
Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Leg 3; Total time
1. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 2h43m54s (2nd); 9h25m53s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 2h39m35s (1st) + 22m22s
3. Jean-L. Schlesser/Emmanuel Guigou (F/F); Schlesser-Ford; 2h55m18s (7th) + 25m49s
4. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 2h57m01s (8th) + 28m21s
Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons (FIN/I); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2
Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 2h45m24s (3rd) + 4h35m32s

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