Volkswagen factory drivers Carlos Sainz and Michel Périn have won the fourth – and with a distance of 379 kilometres the longest – special stage in the UAE Desert Challenge.

At outside temperatures of 37 degrees, the team in the Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 relegated the BMW driver Nasser Al-Attiyah to second place with a 1.39-minute lead following a fierce duel. After his exploit on Monday, this marked the second stage victory for Carlos Sainz.

For the Race Touareg, this is the 17th stage victory of the season and the 40th exploit since 2004. Volkswagen drivers Ari Vatanen and Fabrizia Pons were forced to retire on the special stage after an engine defect.

The Portuguese Carlos Sousa in a vehicle of Team Lagos entered by the Volkswagen semi-works team Phoenix Sport continues to occupy fourth place. On Friday the UAE Desert Challenge will take the teams on a 287-kilometre final stage from the bivouac in Moreeb to Dubai where they are expected to arrive at the finish in the area of the marina.
 

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"We had a very good day, and again the conditions were difficult for both drivers and co-drivers. Carlos and Michel drove perfectly, caught up with Mitsubishi and later overtook them. The Race Touareg 2 was very quick at each time check. This confirms that the evolution of the vehicle with the new components is competitive. Ari Vatanen stopped after 30 kilometres due to an engine problem. Before deciding whether Ari can start to the last leg, we need to investigate the defect. Since Ari was not driving the final evolution of the engine and there was a lot of mileage on this unit we’re not concerned about the defect."
 
#205 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place (leg)
"We’re delighted about our second stage victory because today’s leg, which was fast in some parts, was another hot and tough one for man and material. At some points the navigation was really demanding, Michel did a superb job."
 
#207 – Ari Vatanen (FIN)
"After 27 kilometres we had an engine problem and had to stop. It’s better, though, that this happened here during our ‘dress rehearsal’ than two months from now during the Dakar Rally."
 
#208 – Carlos Sousa (P) – Team Lagos, 7th place (leg) / 4th place overall
"We were able to defend our fourth place overall but, unfortunately, we’re very far away from the first three vehicles. I have to continue to work harder on myself in order to drive faster. The Race Touareg is the best car I’ve ever driven."
 
Standings after leg 4, Moreeb (UAE) – Moreeb (UAE); 379/508 km leg 4/overall
 
Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Leg 4; Total time
1. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4h36m16s (4th); 14h02m09s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4h34m39s (3rd) + 20m45s
3. Jean-L. Schlesser/Emmanuel Guigou (F/F); Schlesser-Ford; 4h42m23s (6th) + 31m56s
4. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4h47m07s (7th) + 39m12s
Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4h30m37s (1st) + 4h29m53s
Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons (FIN/I); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 

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