Almost 30 years after the sensational win of the Race Iltis, Volkswagen Motorsport embarked on an incredible series of triumphs in the legendary desert rally.
In 1980, the Dakar Rally was still known as the Oasis Rally. The motor sport world looked on in astonishment as Freddy Kottulinsky and co-driver Gerd Löffelmann completely unexpectedly won the toughest rally in the world in the rather tame-looking Race Iltis. More than two decades later, Volkswagen launched a project that quickly developed into an unparalleled success story.
The first stage victories for the Race Touareg were recorded in the car’s very first race in 2004. One year later, a third-place finish was carved out, registering the first podium finish, and in 2006 the works team even finished in second place. Due to the dangerous political situation in north-west Africa, the Dakar Rally was cancelled in 2008. In the following year, the desert classic relocated from Africa to South America: the Sahara Desert became the Atacama; the Atlas Mountains became the Andes. And the series of triumphs began for the Race Touareg …
2009: The diesel triumph.
Out of Africa. The Dakar Rally was held in South America for the first time and the first African winner in the history of the rally soon followed: the South African Giniel de Villiers realised the vision with his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz in the Race Touareg 1 and Volkswagen became the first and hitherto only winner of the world’s toughest marathon rally with diesel technology. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA) made it a perfect double win for Volkswagen.
2010: The duel.
Two minutes and twelve seconds: with the closest lead in the history of the Dakar Rally, victory went to the first-time winners from Spain Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, who competed in an enhanced Race Touareg 2. The thrilling battle for the ‘Dakar’ title was an internal team affair: second place went to Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (Q/D). The historic treble was completed by Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA).
2011: The double treble.
Because the first two times were so enjoyable, in January 2011 Volkswagen managed to secure its third ‘Dakar’ win in a row with the new Race Touareg 3. Twelve out of thirteen stage victories were a clear sign of its dominance. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Timo Gottschalk got their revenge for the narrow defeat in 2010, becoming the third Volkswagen pair to have triumphed in the Dakar Rally. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz completed the second treble victory for Volkswagen. It’s always good to quit when you’re at the top: Volkswagen Motorsport has now ended its involvement in the Dakar Rally.