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Old 06-02-2007, 01:00 PM
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Arrow North America D??‡but: Volkswagen Race Touareg In Baja 500 (May 31 ...

North America Debut Of The Volkswagen Race Touareg in Baja 500

North America D?©but: Volkswagen Race Touareg In Baja 500

Volkswagen will enter two vehicles with the driver/co-driver pairings of Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA) and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D) in the legendary Baja 500. The offroad race will be staged at Ensenada on the Mexican peninsula of Baja California on the 2nd June on a 500-mile loop, equating to roughly 800 kilometres. The Baja 500 is seen as the "little sister" of the Baja 1000, which is closely connected with the origin of the first generation of buggies based on Volkswagen technology.

"We are happy about being able to enter a Volkswagen Race Touareg for the first time in a competition in North America and are looking forward to this exceptional rally with eager anticipation," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "The event presents a good opportunity to demonstrate the power and performance of Volkswagen's TDI technology in front of a large audience. The organisers of the American SCORE offroad series also had a major interest in Volkswagen making its factory d?©but in the Baja 500. What's important to us is to show a good performance in completely new terrain."

Volkswagen factory driver Mark Miller has previously contested the Baja 500 as many as ten times - on a motorcycle and in heavy American Trophy Trucks. Nevertheless, the fivetime Baja winner is particularly looking forward to his participation at the wheel of a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2. "On account of their higher power and longer suspension travel, the American Trophy Trucks are probably superior to us on the extremely fast and straight tracks, but the good suspension of the compact and more agile Race Touareg can probably display its strengths on the twisty sections. I'm expecting a very exciting rally. Of course, celebrating my first victory with the Race Tourag here would be a dream."

In the roughly 800-kilometre one-day event on the peninsula of Baja California in the northern part of Mexico the regulations allow more freedom of action than - for example - in the Dakar Rally or the Cross-Country World Rally Cup. "There are more things allowed such as team members accompanying the rally vehicles in helicopters to keep the drivers posted on how the rally is going. As the large trucks and buggies do not have any rearview mirrors, and are not equipped with Sentinel systems enabling faster vehicles to signal their approach like in the 'Dakar', it's certainly common practice to 'tap' a vehicle in front of you, in other words to make your presence known by slightly touching its rear. With our flat and compact Race Touareg 2, this will be pretty difficult because we'd tend to drive under the high trucks rather than 'tapping' them," explained Mark Miller, who will be contesting the event with his South African co-driver Ralph Pitchford. Pitchford will be competing in North America for the first time.

For Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in the second Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, the American Baja rallies are new territory as well. "The Baja 500 is a long offroad sprint race. Due to the hard tracks covered with potholes, this will probably be an extremely tough event for both man and material. I've been told that the track resembles the Dakar Rally's legs in Northern Morocco," said Giniel de Villiers. "Experience is particularly important here, as some of the parts of the route are repeated frequently. We do not yet know what is awaiting us, but we would be very pleased to ultimately finish among the top five. I don't expect that a better result will be possible competing against the U.S. drivers in their big trucks."

"Unlike the situation in the Dakar Rally or Cross-Country Rally World Cup, we have the opportunity here to drive the entire route before in so-called pre-runs with a service vehicle or the Race Touareg," said co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz. "Of course we'll make use of this opportunity. Similar to the roadbooks in a classical rally, we are planning to prepare detailed rally notes. Unlike the large trucks, we won't necessarily have to make any refuelling stops during the race thanks to our five-cylinder TDI engine. Our goal will be to complete the entire distance on one tank of diesel fuel and with as few tyre changes as possible."

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Source: [url=http://www.paddocktalk.com/news/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid= 56689]PaddockTalk[/url]
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