Herndon, Virginia – Volkswagen has become the first automobile manufacturer to win the Dakar Rally with a diesel-powered vehicle, with its Race Touareg TDIs taking first and second place.
The 2009 Dakar Rally was won by the Volkswagen Factory driving team of Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz of South Africa and Germany, while Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford finished in second, the highest finish ever by an American team. The 9,000-km race was run in South America, following its cancellation in Africa due to terrorism threats.
“It was just an incredible result for the Volkswagen team this year, with Giniel and Dirk taking the historic first diesel-powered win,” said Clark Campbell, Volkswagen of America Motorsport Manager. “All of us here at Volkswagen of America are also especially proud of Mark and Ralph’s tremendous finish this year as well. Mark is a key person in our Motorsport efforts here in North America, and his finish as the highest American driver ever to race the Dakar is a testament to his driving skills, physical and mental fitness, and his passion for off-road racing.”
The course started and finished in Buenos Aires, Argentina and ran through Argentina and Chile on terrain that included sand dunes, water passages, stony ground and a trek through the Andes Mountains, in temperature extremes ranging from below 0°C to over 40ºC.