Volkswagen has admitted its disappointment with the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar Rally but has said it fully supports the decision not to run the event on safety grounds.

The killing of four French tourists in Mauritania led to calls from the French government for the event to be cancelled due to the 'terrorist threat' in the African nation - which was set to host stages of the rally from 11-19 January.

That cancellation was confirmed by event organisers ASO following consultation with the French government with a statement released admitting that guaranteeing the safety of the competitors made it impossible to run the event.

It means that months of work for the competing teams has now been for nothing as the competitors prepare to head home rather than take the start in Lisbon, something that disappointed VW Motorsport director Kris Nissen despite his support for the decision.

"We fully respect the decision for safety purposes, which also have absolute priority for us," he said. "The cancellation is a great disappointment for every member of the Volkswagen Motorsport team, particularly as everybody was looking forward to starting this peaceful and fair sporting competition."

Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, board member with responsibility for technical development at Volkswagen, agreed with Nissen on both points - stating that safety had to come first despite the disappointment that the event won't take place.

"The safety of every single participant has absolute priority and for this reason Volkswagen completely and utterly endorses the decision made by the organisers ASO to cancel the start of the Dakar Rally originally scheduled for 5 January," he said.

"We are obviously very unhappy about the cancellation, since we prepared for this rally for an entire year and were extremely well equipped for this sporting challenge."



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