Last Sunday Team Vw made history in Argentina with the very first diesel-powered victory in the Dakar Rally.What is more is that the team's TDI-engined Touareg, driven by the South African driver Giniel de Villers with German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, crossed 5000 km of competitive rallying almost 9 minutes ahead of the closes rival, sister VW of USA/South Africa with Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford. Third place, which was 100 minutes away, went to Robby Gordon who was driving the American Hummer.
Press release: Volkswagen won the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile with the Race Touareg and thus made motorsport history. The exploit clinched by the South African-German duo Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in the debut event of the legendary desert classic in South America marked the first ever victory of a diesel-powered vehicle in the automobile class in the 30-year-history of the "Dakar”. Their Volkswagen team colleagues Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) as the runners-up completed the exploit as a one-two victory.
In the extremely tough test for man and material the Volkswagen Race Touareg with its innovative 280-hp TDI engine proved to be the fastest and most reliable car, while the field of contenders – featuring 14 top cars with diesel engines – was of a higher calibre than ever. Volkswagen defeated the serial "Dakar” winners, Mitsubishi, who had not been beaten since 2001, as well as the X-raid BMW team.
Besides de Villiers/von Zitzewitz and Miller/Pitchford at the top, the German duo Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk in another Race Touareg finished the Dakar Rally, in sixth place overall. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) in another one of the Red Bull blue Race Touareg vehicles, who had been leading the class of the total of 168 cars that had started to the event on eight days, retired after an accident on the twelfth leg while leading the rally.
36-year-old Giniel de Villiers from Stellenbosch had already clinched second place at the "Dakar” in the Race Touareg in 2006. In 2003, the former South African touring car champion contested his first Dakar Rally, since 2006 he has been navigated by Dirk von Zitzewitz. The 40-year-old from Karlshof, and 15-time German Enduro champion, contested his first first "Dakar” on two wheels, switched into the cockpit as a co-driver in 2002, alongside Mark Miller by the way, and formed a team with Robby Gordon (2005) for Volkswagen as well.
Since 2007 Dirk von Zitzewitz has been pointing the right way to Giniel de Villiers. 46-year-old Mark Miller from Phoenix/Arizona drove his first "Dakar” in 2002 and has been a Volkswagen factory driver since 2005, with Ralph Pitchford from Pretoria in his co-driver's seat since 2006.