Volkswagen Claims First Dakar Rally Victory | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 17.01.2009
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Volkswagen Claims First Dakar Rally Victory

South African Giniel de Villiers clinched a first Dakar Rally victory for the Volkswagen team after winning Saturday's final time stage.

Volkswagen driver Giniel De Villiers of South Africa competes in the 13th stage of the Argentina Dakar Rally

De Villiers will officially claim the win after Sunday's final, untimed, stage

De Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz of Germany in a Race Touareg finished 8 minutes 59 seconds ahead of fellow Volkswagen driver Mark Miller of the United States.

It was the first diesel-powered win in the event which was switched this year to Argentina and Chile after last year's edition in Africa was called off amid security concerns.

De Villiers completed the 227-kilometer (141-mile) timed section of the 14th stage in one hour 35 minutes 43 seconds, finishing ahead of Russian Leonid Nowitskiy (BMW) and Krisztof Holowczyc (Nissan) of Poland.

Third place overall went to Robby Gordon of the United States in a Hummer.

It was a first Dakar win for 2006 runner-up De Villiers.

"It's just incredible. I never felt this way... I was so nervous in the last kilometers," he said. "I kept looking at how many kilometers we still had to go. But I must say this is an incredible feeling. I am so thrilled for the whole team, for Volkswagen that supported us for five years before we could get to this victory."

The standings were to be confirmed after completion of the untimed liaison stretch of the 791-kilometre stage from Cordoba to Buenos Aires. The 15th and last stage on Sunday is a ceremonial drive across the finishing line in Buenos Aires.

This year's rally has been dominated by the Volkswagen team who probably would have had a clean sweep of the podium places but for the exit of Carlos Sainz while in the lead on Thursday.

The twice world rally champion from Spain had led for most of the rally, only to drive into a ravine. Sainz escaped unhurt and could have continued but navigator Michel Perin sustained a shoulder fracture.

Sainz had been in a tussle in the first week with Qatari Nassar Al-Attiyah of the X-Raid team in a BMW who was disqualified for missing checkpoints while leading overall following the sixth stage.

Although a first Dakar win at the sixth attempt for the Volkswagen team, the 1980 Paris-Dakar rally was won by private competitors Freddy Kottulinsky and Gerd Loeffelmann in a VW Iltis prepared by Audi.

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