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OPTICAL AND HEARING
21st September, 2005
First Volkswagen customer team in cross country rallying: Stéphane Henrard from Belgium will be the first private driver to compete in the 2006 Dakar Rally at the wheel of a Volkswagen Race-Touareg.
The 39-year old economist from Brussels will line up at the start of the desert classic between 31st December and 15th January together with his French co-driver Antonia de Roissard. The 260 hp Race-Touareg has already impressively demonstrated its performance potential by taking three victories and clinching the title early with works driver Bruno Saby in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup.
"We are delighted to be able to supply this well-proven and winning vehicle to a customer team in the future", emphasises Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Stéphane Henrard has been associated with the Volkswagen brand for a long time now and has shown that he can successfully realise cross country rallying projects alone. Therefore, in addition to the Volkswagen works involvement, the ‘Dakar' started field will be strengthened with another top-flight vehicle.
Stéphane Henrard was the first to use Volkswagen TDI diesel technology in a buggy at the Dakar Rally in the year 2000. Since then, Stéphane Henrard has been one of the biggest supporters and most successful drivers with his 1.9 litre TDI powered buggy in the category for vehicles with two-wheel drive. The podium finish at last year's Tunisian Rally, a round of the World Cup, is one of his best results.
"I'm proud that Volkswagen has made the high-developed Race-Touareg to me as first privateer. My heartfelt thanks go to Kris Nissen's team”, acknowledges Stéphane Henrard. "Our team HRT will compete with this well-proven and reliable rally car at the 2006 ‘Dakar' with support from the Belgian Volkswagen importer. As I will be driving for the first time with four-wheel drive in competition, I want to familiarise myself with the Race-Touareg as early as this autumn during a test in Morocco.” Henrard will decide about the possibility of an additional race programme with the Race-Touareg after the 2006 Dakar Rally.
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen: "We can envisage working together with other customer teams for the 2006 season which want to compete in cross country rallying with the Race-Touareg.”
21st September, 2005
The Volkswagen works team for the 2006 Dakar Rally is complete: The American Mark Miller will drive the fifth Volkswagen Race-Touareg, his co-driver on the desert classic, which starts in Lisbon on 31st December 2005, is the German Dirk von Zitzewitz.
The two former motorcyclists team-up with current Volkswagen works drivers Bruno Saby/Michel Perin (F/F), Jutta Kleinschmidt/Fabrizia Pons (D/I), Carlos Sainz/Andy Schulz (E/D) and Giniel de Villiers/Tina Thörner (RSA/S). "I got to know the Touareg at the test in Morocco and am totally impressed. I realise a dream by signing for Volkswagen”, explains the 42-year old Mark Miller, who lives in Arizona and Colorado.
The former financial consultant and current professional driver has already collected valuable experience on both two and four wheels during previous desert rallies. Furthermore, he also made a name for himself racing ‘on track' in the Truck series of the American NASCAR Championship. Mark Miller has already competed twice with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz in the 2002 and 2004 Dakar Rallies. "Mark and I got to know each other as motorcyclists and team mates during the Atlas Rally in Morocco in 1998. We have been friends ever since”, says Dirk von Zitzewitz, who hit the headlines, together with the American Robby Gordon in the Touareg, during the 2004 Dakar Rally. "Dirk's work is enormously important for our success”, explains Mark Miller. "As former motorcyclists we also have a special, very down-to-earth way of communicating with each other.”
"We are very pleased to have gained an experienced driver like Mark Miller for the ‘Dakar', explains Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. "We put various candidates in the hot seat, but he impressed us the most with his professional way of working. He drove faultlessly on two test days.” Mark Miller will be involved in the extensive Volkswagen works team test programme leading up to the Dakar Rally. "I can't wait to get started”, says Miller. "At the tests I was impressed with just how hard and dedicated the team works. I felt immediately at home. Even though everybody speaks English I plan to learn German as quickly as possible.”
"Mark Miller will spend the next few weeks in Germany to get to know the team better”, adds Kris Nissen.