Volkswagen claims 1-2-3 sweep of 2011 Dakar Rally
After two weeks of intensive competition in the 2011 Dakar Rally, a trio of specially prepared Volkswagen Touaregs swept to the top three overall finishing positions. That podium-filling effort by these latest-iteration Race Touareg 3 "RT3" variants reprised the team's equally impressive 1-2-3 result in the 2010 running of this grueling event.
Last year's runnerups, Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Timo Gottaschalkl claimed their first Dakar win, completing the 13-stage/near-6,000 mile run through the most unforgiving deserts and wilds of Chile's Atacama Desert and the Argentina's Sierras Pampeanas nearly 50 minutes ahead of Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz. An identical RT3 of 2010 Dakar contest winners Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz followed in third, an hour and 20 minutes behind the leader while the final Race Touareg 3 driven by American Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford also completed the event, finishing in sixth place.
A major upgrading of the eminently successful RT2 rally package used in 2010, power for the now-carbon-fiber-bodied Race Touareg 3 comes from the latest and most potent version of VW's 2.5-liter twin-turbocharged TDI inline-five. Making 310 horses and an estimated 442 lb-ft of torque which gets shipped to all four wheels via a five-speed sequential gearbox and a trio of limited slip differentials, it also boasts a new and even more efficient cooling system. Boasting even greater overall drivability and quickness, the new VW RT3 can reportedly accelerate 0-60 mph in about 6.0 seconds and have a top speed of 117 mph.