Volkswagen made a positive start to their 2009 Dakar Rally offensive as they locked out positions two to four following the first stage in Argentina.
Setting their sights on denying Mitsubishi an eighth straight win on the epic event, Volkswagen got things off to a good start when they comfortably out paced their rivals with the revised Touareg.
While it wasn't enough to go quickest as Nasser Al-Attiyah established an early two minute lead for BMW, World Rally Championship legend Carlos Sainz was nonetheless pleased to be second quickest, particularly after choosing not to pass Stephane Peterhansel on the stage.
"The first stage started very well for us. We found a good rhythm for this really extremely fast stage. However, after 115 kilometres we caught up with Stéphane Peterhansel who was on the road in front of us in a Mitsubishi. Because of the large dust cloud it wasn't possible to overtake safely. For this reason we took very few risks and remained behind Stéphane for the rest of the stage.”
Giniel de Villiers, meanwhile, was third quickest, the South African choosing to take the cautious approach without falling too far out of contention.
"Today it was just a question of taking as little risk as possible. At just a little more than two minutes behind the leader we have stayed within striking distance without wanting too much. This was exactly our target.
“The stage was really fast and we had to overtake a lot of motorbikes in the dust. We saw just how quickly something can happen in a dangerous situation when a motorbike rider crashed directly in front of us. Luckily we were able to stop in time.”
Mark Miller was fourth quickest, but Dieter Depping finds himself down in 80th after suffering an electrical problem.