de Villiers signs with VW for Dakar Rally
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de Villiers signs with VW for Dakar Rally

Date: 02 May 2005 Author Type: Registered Journalist
Author: Andrew Walker
South African multiple racing champion Giniel de Villiers has signed with Volkswagen AG to drive the Volkswagen Race Touareg at next year`s Dakar Rally, and will be partnered by the Swedish lady Tina Thörner. They will be the third driver/co-driver duo alongside Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons and Bruno Saby and Michel Périn.

"We are delighted to have secured the services of such a quick and experienced driver as Giniel de Villiers and with Tina Thörner an equally skilful co-driver for our team," explains Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. "Giniel was always in the leading pack during his three `Dakar` competitions, and Tina has a great deal of experience and vast knowledge of navigating through the desert. The pair really is a strong addition and will help to bring our team an important step further."

Giniel de Villiers and Tina Thörner acquainted themselves with the Volkswagen Race-Touareg in tests held this week, where they supported teammate Bruno Saby during engine tests. "I felt immediately at home in the Race-Touareg and also in the team", comments de Villiers. "I got really hooked and can`t wait to drive the Race-Touareg more often during the forthcoming months." Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen has already scheduled his new signings to assist in the next tests: "In Morocco, Giniel and Tina will be make endurance runs, so called long-runs up to and over 700 kilometres per day. We will integrate the two of them completely into our team from the very first day. In this way they will have the chance to gather a huge amount of experience with the Race-Touareg over a very short space of time."

de Villiers at the `Dakar`

Giniel de Villiers was driving for Nissan between 1994 and the beginning of 2005 and competed regularly in circuit and rally events for the Japanese marque. "I`ve reached a point in my career where I need a new challenge. I`m very happy to be able to follow my sporting goals together with Volkswagen", says the South African, who has competed in three Dakar Rallies to date and, on each occasion, beat his more illustrious teammates Colin McRae and Ari Vatanen and was, as a result, always the best driver of his marque. The African cross country classic is also the main focus of attention at Volkswagen. "Our goal is to be as well prepared as possible for the 2006 Dakar Rally. This also means that Giniel and Tina will contest Cross Country Rally World Cup events", explains Kris Nissen.
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