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DAKAR: Nissen savours VW victory.

After five years of trying, Volkswagen has finally loosened Mitsubishi's stranglehold on the Dakar Rally after sweeping to victory on the 2009 running of the event.

Having entered with the Tarek buggy in 2003, Volkswagen made a dedicated attempt at the event in 2004 with the Touareg SUV, but while it has shown speed over the years, greater reliability from Mitsubishi had prevented them from beating their rivals.

However, with Mitsubishi struggling for form with the new Racing Lancer, Volkswagen have gone on to dominate for the majority of the event, even if long-time leader Carlos Sainz crashed in the closing stages to hand victory to team-mate Giniel de Villiers.

The culmination of a long-term project by Volkswagen to win 'The Race' with a diesel-fuelled machine, motorsport director Kris Nissen was delighted to see the Touareg become the quickest and most reliable car overall.

"We did it: We wanted to be the first automobile manufacturer to win the Dakar Rally with diesel power. We have now managed to do this, and with a one-two victory at that. Volkswagen can truly be proud of this historic triumph.

“We've got 'Das Auto', we've got 'The Team' and together we have won 'The Race'. Celebrating a one-two victory at this extremely tough rally is a major achievement.

“We not only beat our strongest rivals, Mitsubishi and X-raid-BMW, but prevailed against the Dakar Rally itself. It was more challenging, demanding and murderous on the material than ever.

“But Volkswagen was tougher, more reliable: Three of our four cars reached the finish, and not one of the Race Touareg vehicles retired due to a technical problem. I want to congratulate and thank the entire team and our successful drivers and co-drivers.”


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