Those Germans and their diesels. As if the LeMans-winning Audi R10 TDI race car wasn't enough, corporate sibling Volkswagen made its own diesel history, claiming the gold and silver medals at the Dakar Rally with TDI Touaregs and marking the first time diesels have placed in the event's thirty year history.
This year's Dakar event was held for the first time in South America. The race was a grueling off-road romp that covered over 9,000 kilometers and stretched from Buenos Aires, Argentina, across the Andes mountains and through Chile. Temperatures ranged from 104 degrees to below freezing; terrain included sand dunes, fording deep streams, and traversing rocky terrain in the Andes.
2009 Volkswagen Touareg TDIEnlarge Photo
The first place Volkswagen Touareg TDI was driven by a South African, Giniel de Villiers, and a German, Dirk von Zitzewitz, both part of the VW Factory driving team. American VW factory driver and rock-crawling master Mark Miller took second place, making him the highest finishing American ever to race the Dakar Rally. Miller's co-driver was Ralph Pitchford.
Working with one less cylinder than the 3.o-liter TDI clean diesel V-6 that will debut for U.S. Touareg duty this spring, the Race Touareg's TDI five cylinder unit spits out 280 hp and 440 lb-ft of twist.