The brand new Volkswagen Race-Touareg survived with ease on the longest special stage, 736 kilometres, of the 2004 Dakar Rally: Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons, who are competing under appeal, set the third best time on the ninth stage after having recorded the second best time the previous day. Bruno Saby/Matthew Stevenson complemented the excellent team result with the sixth quickest time. In the overall standings Saby/Stevenson moved up two places to seventh. Together with the kilometre long camel grass fields, the extremely rough and rutted tracks on the stage from Tidjikja to Nema in Mauritania brutally abused the components. The two Race-Touareg cars, developed in only seven months, mastered the second part of the so-called marathon stage brilliantly and without a single puncture or suspension failure. The organisers cancelled the next two legs after the authorities in Mali and France expressed safety concerns. January 12th will be a rest day in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso as scheduled.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"On such an incredibly long stage we are among the leading pack with both cars. I am extremely satisfied. This is the result of a fantastic performance by both driver and co-driver, but also the Race-Truck crews who worked very hard through the entire night to prepare both the Race-Touareg cars for the longest stage. The cancellation of the next two stages is the most sensible solution. The team will also benefit from the well earned rest.”
Bruno Saby (#224)
"The stage time of almost 11 hours was simply never ending. Previously in the history of the rally there have only been few such tough stages. Matthew navigated perfectly and the Race-Touareg improves with every kilometre.”
Jutta Kleinschmidt (#204)
"The stage was slow and extremely tough. Sandy tracks, stones, camel grass - pure torture. I'm overwhelmed by the qualities of the Race-Touareg, which ran perfectly. The tyres were also free from punctures. Big thanks to Fabrizia for faultless navigation. Even as third fastest team we drove the last few kilometres in the dark.”