Having given best to the leading BMW entry on day one of the 2009 Dakar Rally, Volkswagen assumed first and second positions overall with Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers mastering the challenging conditions on the second stage.
Spaniard Sainz took the fastest time in his Volkswagen Race Touareg on the dusty leg between Santa Rosa and Puerto Madryn in Argentina, eventually coming out on top of a thrilling fight with Mitsubishi's Stéphane Peterhansel to prevail by 1min 14secs.
"The second stage was a great deal harder than the first, as the motorbikes and dust caused us the most the problems," Sainz commented, "The first part of the stage was particularly fast, but we had to drive slower behind the motorbikes. However, we couldn't afford to stop otherwise we would have got bogged down in the soft ground. We got lost once at a difficult point, but my co-driver worked excellently.”
Third best time on the day was sufficient for de Villiers to improve one position in the overall standings. The South African now lies second, just 2min 19secs off the lead, and ahead of reigning Dakar champion Peterhansel.
"We had to master many tight sections full of trees and, in the dense dust, you are as good as running blind," he reported, "In the middle section, we got lost briefly and lost one or two minutes, so the second stage was also particularly difficult for the co-driver, which makes the fact that we have moved up to second overall even better.”
"A good day for Volkswagen – I can't say it a different way," VW motorsport director Kris Nissen confirmed, "Carlos and Giniel have given us first and second overall, and every Race Touareg ran perfectly, so I am in fact very satisfied.
"The demands made of the driver and, more specifically, the co-driver were considerably greater on the second day and, for the third day, we expect a completely different terrain. We aim to prepare ourselves for this as well as possible.”
While Sainz and de Villiers could reflect positively on the day, however, Mark Miller felt the full effect of the perils along the 237km stage, which he agreed to have been significantly harder than leg one and the subsequent 600km liaison section to Puerto Madryn.
The American frequently had to avoid motorcyclists, twice lost his way and now lies seventh overall, while the demands on Dieter Depping were even harder. After losing time due to electrical problems on day one, the German had to start behind many slower vehicles, but still completed the stage quickly enough that eleventh best time was the result, putting him 26th overall.
""Unfortunately, the conditions were extremely difficult, with many slower cars starting in front of us - and, at the end, we even caught up with the motorbikes," Depping noted, "Overtaking was only possible if the competitor in front made a mistake.
"The changing wind direction sometimes made the trip easier, but the wind also enveloped us in dense dust clouds often enough. The navigation along perimeter fences and through the gates of large estates was very difficult, but it was a lot of fun to attack with the Race Touareg, which was running perfectly again today.”