Al Attiyah and Cruz Senra new in Volkswagen Team
May 11, 2009: The Volkswagen line-up for the 2010 Dakar Rally is complete: Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar complements the Volkswagen squad as a team-mate of Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers (ZA), Mark Miller (USA) and Carlos Sainz (E). Alongside the proven co-drivers Timo Gottschalk (D), Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) and Ralph Pitchford (ZA) the Spaniard Lucas Cruz Senra will join the team as a new member. By clinching a one-two victory in January at the Dakar 2009 Volkswagen made motorsport history: As the first automobile manufacturer in the 30-year history of the legendary desert rally, the brand won with a diesel-powered vehicle.
"Volkswagen will contest the Dakar in 2010 with a clear aim: We want to repeat our triumph," says Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "One thing is clear already: The route is likely to be even tougher and the challenge even greater. We´re perfectly set for this task: With his Cross-Country World Cup title and stage wins at the Dakar Nasser Al-Attiyah proved that he ranks among the best drivers in this sport. The part of the co-drivers is a crucial factor at the Dakar as well. The signing of Lucas Cruz Senra marks the return of an experienced navigator to our team."
With the German Timo Gottschalk, 38-year-old Nasser Al-Attiyah will have a co-driver who is intimately familiar with the Volkswagen family. The 34-year-old from Berlin achieved sixth place at the past Dakar Rally with Dieter Depping (D). Like his new co-driver, Nasser Al-Attiyah can draw on experience in sprint and cross-country rallies.
In addition to his runs in the FIA Rally World Cup and the FIA World Cup for Baja rallies that were crowned by drivers titles in 2008, the Olympic Games participant, who represents his native Quatar in clay pigeon shooting as well, has a track record of victorious races in the Group N classification and the FIA World Rally Championship. At the 2009 Dakar he clinched two stage victories and had the overall lead some of the time.
"My heart beats for rally racing and I´m delighted to be able to contest the Dakar 2010 with such a professional team as Volkswagen," says Nasser Al-Attiyah. "With its one-two win the squad proved that it´s the team to be beaten. At Volkswagen, I now have the chance myself to show that I can win the Dakar. I´ll give everything to achieve this goal." Timo Gottschalk adds: "The first thing we´ve got to do is grow together as a team quickly during tests and preparation rallies. His driving skills and my knowledge as a navigator can create a striking combination."
Carlos Sainz will tackle the 2010 Dakar Rally with a new co-driver as well. With Lucas Cruz Senra joining the team, the Spaniard, who had been leading the rally for eight days in January 2009 and decided six out of 13 possible stages in his favour, will share the cockpit with a compatriot who has experience in cross-country rally racing under his belt. For Cruz, the signing as a co-driver in the Race Touareg marks a return: As early as in 2006, Cruz, who is now 34 years of age, was part of the Dakar squad as co-driver in the Race-Truck. "Of course, I´m delighted to return to the Volkswagen team. Having Carlos Sainz as one of the strongest and most famous drivers at my side gives me additional motivation," says Lucas Cruz Senra. "Being able to speak Spanish in the cockpit may prove to be an advantage - because in extreme situations precise instructions are absolutely crucial."
The German Dieter Depping will remain a firm element in Volkswagen Motorsport as well: The sixth-placed "Dakar” finisher is involved in the Dakar Rally programme as a development and spare driver.