Volkswagen Race Touareg - Three Dakar Rally Wins in a Row
The Volkswagen Race Touareg is the race car which earned three consecutive wins for Volkswagen Motorsport at Dakar Rally between 2009 and 2011. The winners were Giniel de Villiers, Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah.
The first generation of Volkswagen Race Touareg debuted at Dakar Rally in 2004 and scored the first podium for a diesel-powered car in 2005. Four years later, the first diesel victory came in a Dakar Rally which was for the first time held in South America. After the third victory, German manufacturer stopped its Dakar programme and focused on the World Rally Championship.
Return to Dakar Rally 23 years after first win
The first victory at Dakar Rally for Volkswagen was scored in the second edition of the race, in 1980, with Freddy Kottulinsky and Gerd Löffelmann in one of four Volkswagen Iltis cars. With that victory in mind, Volkswagen Motorsport started its new Dakar programme in 2003, entering the race with the buggy Tarek prototype, using the TDI technology. The team took the 1-2 victory in the 2WD class, achieved by Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons and Stephane Henrard/Bobby Willis.
Volkswagen Race Touareg debuted at Dakar Rally in 2004
In 2004, the four-wheel-drive Volkswagen Race Touareg debuted, using the same 2.3-litre 5-cylinder TDI engine as Tarek. Jutta Kleinschmidt scored one stage victory while Bruno Saby finished sixth overall. In 2005, the Race Touareg 2 was introduced, with a new 2.5-litre 275hp engine, designed especially for Dakar Rally. Jutta Kleinschmidt reached the first podium, finishing third overall. It was the first podium of a diesel-powered car in Dakar Rally’s history.
Every year better results for Race Touareg
In January 2006, the results improved. Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 was in the lead for five days, scoring five stage wins. At the end of 2006 Dakar Rally, Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner finished in second place.
Volkswagen started the 2007 Dakar Rally with a new four-valve TDI-engine, increasing the power output to 285 hp and push the maximum torque over 600 Nm. The new version of the engine gave the Race Touareg much better performance. The result was quite amazing – ten stage victories and eight leading days. At the end, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford finished fourth overall.
Maiden win for Race Touareg at 2009 Dakar Rally
In 2008, the Dakar Rally was canceled. For 2009, the event was moved to South America. In January 2009, Volkswagen finally scored a victory at Dakar Rally, 29 years after a historic first win in 1980. In fact, it was a double triumph, because Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz finished first, Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford were second.
The triumph by Giniel de Villiers marked several milestones. Volkswagen was the first manufacturer to win the “new Dakar” in South America. In addition, VW managed to clinch the first victory of a diesel- powered car.
All three podium spots for Volkswagen in 2010
Even better results followed in 2010, still with the Race Touareg 2. The Spanish crew Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz won the desert classic for the first time. The podium was completed by two Volkswagen crews: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk and Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford.
It’s interesting that Sainz and Al-Attiyah were separated by just two minutes and twelve seconds after 9,000 kilometers and that was the closest Dakar finish of all time.
Race Touareg 3 was developed for 2011 Dakar Rally
The third version of the Volkswagen Race Touareg was freshly developed for the 2011 Dakar Rally and it was both an evolution and a revolution. The latest version of 2.5-litre TDI engine produces 310 hp. Three limited slip differentials make sure that the torque finds it’s way to the floor in the most effective manner. The 31-inch-sized wheels are helping to bound over rough terrain with ease. The 10-inch width ensures that a large cross section of rubber is always in contact with the ground.
Design elements from production Touareg
To ensure a soft landing of the 1750kg vehicle, there are double wishbone suspension units on the front and rear axles, each with twin spring-damper elements. Each is limited to have a travel of 250mm. The tubular space frame, constructed of hi-tensile steel, has a duty to provide safe space for driver and his navigator. Over this frame, a carbon and kevlar bodyshell is draped. The design of the third generation Race Touareg uses the design elements of the new production Touareg.
One more hat-trick before saying ‘goodbye’
At 2011 Dakar Rally, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk got their revenge for the defeat in 2010, becoming the third Volkswagen pair who have triumphed in the Dakar Rally. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz completed the second in a row podium sweep victory for Volkswagen.
With that victory Volkswagen Motorsport said ‘goodbye’ to Dakar, switching its interest to the World Rally Championship, with Carlos Sainz as one of the developing experts for the all-new VW Polo R WRC.