Volkswagen Notches 1-2-3 Sweep of Dakar Rally
For the second consecutive year, Volkswagen has dominated the grueling three-week Dakar Rally. At the end of 14 stages that covered 5,611 miles, two-time World Rally Driving champion Spaniard Carlos Sainz took his first Dakar victory in a TDI-powered Race Touareg prototype, and spearheaded an impressive 1-2-3 sweep for these turbodiesel-powered VW SUVs in the process.
For most of the competition -- which took place in Argentina and Chile and included two crossings of the Andes Mountains -- the VW contingent dominated, with Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz battling primarily against teammate, Nassar Al-Attiyah of Qatar and his German co-pilot Timo Gottschalk. In the end, Sainz ended up with a two-minute and 12-second overall advantage. Rounding out the podium for VW was American Mike Miller and partner Ralph Pitchford of New Zealand, who finished nearly 33 minutes behind Sainz. In addition to collecting seven individual stage wins and extending VW's Dakar victory string, these dominating TDI Race Touaregs continue to be the only entrants to ever win the "car" division of the Dakar Rally using diesel power.
The next highest-placed American entry was the Team Hummer entry driven by Robby Gordon and Andy Grider. The pair finished eighth overall but did mange to win stage four in the process. This marked the 32nd running of the Dakar Rally, which originally began as the Paris-Dakar Rally Raid. However, the event was renamed when security issues forced organizers to cancel the 2008 running and relocate it from Africa to South America starting last year. It remains the longest and most demanding event of its kind anywhere in the world.