Despite rivals Mitsubishi calling a halt to its Rally Raid programme, Volkswagen has confirmed that it will return to the Dakar Rally to defend its title in 2010.

The team became the first in the history of the event to win with a diesel-powered car after Giniel de Villiers led home Mark Miller for a 1-2 finish, while Mitsubishi's hopes of defending the title fell apart.

Although the current economic downturn has forced Mitsubishi to leave the Rally Raid scene, Volkswagen's executive group chairman Professor Dr Martin Winterkorn insisted that the Dakar was still a vital part of VW's plans and a 'good investment' moving forwards.

''No doubt, the 2009 Dakar Rally contributed to the fact that the Volkswagen brand is now shining even brighter around the world," he said. ''Therefore, our participation in this event is a good investment in the future of our company and that's why we decided to again compete in the Dakar Rally in 2010."

Preparations for the two-week cross-country rally covering 9,500 kilometres across the desert and the pampas have already started.

''We've got quick drivers, a reliable car and an experienced team - in other words, everything we need to again contest the Dakar and to fight for victory," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. That is why in 2010 the victorious Race Touareg 2 will compete in the event yet again.

The Dakar will return to South American soil again in 2010, having moved from Africa this year.

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