Volkswagen Race Touareg made strong debut at the 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 500. The #81i Red Bull Race Touareg driven by Mark Miller along with co-driver Ralph Pitchford. (PRNewsFoto/Volkswagen of America, Inc.)
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A pair of Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 vehicles, from the automaker's acclaimed Dakar Rally Factory Team, claimed two top-20 finishes at the 39th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500 in Ensenada, Mexico.
The Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 team was paced by American Mark Miller, with an 11th place finish in the International Truck Class, and South African teammate Giniel de Villiers, who took 18th place in the same division.
This event marked Volkswagen of America's first official factory entry in the SCORE Desert Racing series. Miller piloted the #81i Red Bull Race Touareg 2 to a time of 10:00:38 hours, while de Villiers' #83i Race Touareg crossed the finish line at 10:18:44 hours. Round three of the six-race 2007 SCORE Desert Series featured a record lineup of 492 competitors in 28 Pro and six Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs. This year's tight and technical 424.22-mile course saw only 283 competitors, or 57 percent of all participants, finish within the 20-hour time limit.
"The results of this race are very positive for Volkswagen," said Clark Campbell, Volkswagen of America Motorsports manager. "While the Race Touareg SUV is built for an entirely different type of racing, our two finishes clearly demonstrates the vehicle's reliability, efficiency, and speed, proving that we are more than capable of competing with the best of the competition."
"That was the toughest, most brutal route I've ever driven in a Baja 500," said event veteran Mark Miller, driver of the #81i Race Touareg. "The course was very difficult and you can't believe the abuse this thing took - I can't believe I can even stand up right now. It's the roughest thing that this vehicle has ever endured."
His teammate, Giniel de Villiers, said the vehicle's shorter suspension system held up admirably, even against typical, Baja-equipped competitors.
"Only on the extremely bumpy parts of the track did we have a disadvantage, compared to the U.S. vehicles, with their long suspension travels. We are subject to limitations in this regard on account of the Dakar regulations," said de Villiers "Despite this technical difference, we were definitely able to keep the pace and perform even faster in some stretches of the course."
Volkswagen's Race Touaregs were likely helped by the efficiency of the 2.5 L in- line five-cylinder TDI engine, as they were the only two vehicles that did not have to stop to refuel during the entire race. Additionally, they suffered no mechanical problems; combined, the two vehicles only made three pit stops along the course, to replace a spare tire that had fallen off and for both vehicles to receive fresh tires.
"The fact is that we achieved this success with a diesel engine that is relatively quiet but develops incredible torque," said Miller. "We participated not having to refuel even once, while the U.S. vehicles had to stop for fuel two or even three times. This is a testament to how advanced and fuel efficient the TDI technology truly is."
"The drivers and co-drivers put in a magnificent performance," said Campbell. "The entire Volkswagen Red Bull race team was superb - we had a strong plan going into this and everyone helped to execute according to that plan - the preparation was awesome."
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Volkswagen Rabbit, Volkswagen New Beetle, Volkswagen New Beetle convertible, Volkswagen GTI, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen GLI, Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Passat wagon, Volkswagen Eos, and Volkswagen Touareg through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers.
Visit Volkswagen of America online at www.vw.com
Source: Volkswagen of America, Inc.