volkswagen tarek set to tackle tough dakar rally
Dec 19, 2002
Volkswagen will enter international motorsport in 2003 with three prototype vehicles taking part in the world-renowned Dakar Rally. The Tarek buggy – which made its public debut at the recent Essen Motor Show – will compete in the 25th anniversary of the famous cross-country rally, paving the way for future involvement in the sport with a modified version of the Touareg.
The Tarek uses a rally-developed version of the proven 1.9-litre four-cylinder TDI diesel engine – a powerplant that is no stranger to competitive motorsport, having powered the successful Golf TDI Racer in the UK. In this latest application it develops 218 PS at 4250 rpm and 288 lbs ft (390 Nm) of torque at 3000 rpm, longitudinally-mounted amidships with drive to the rear wheels.
New rules introduced earlier this year permit the entry of prototype vehicles such as the Tarek in a separate category to those derived directly from standard off-road cars. However, the basic philosophy of the Dakar Rally remains the same – even compared with other cross-country rallies, the emphasis is very much on endurance. Lasting for almost three weeks and covering over 5000 miles, the Dakar Rally is generally considered to be the toughest cross-country event in the world.
Three drivers will be representing Volkswagen: Jutta Kleinschmidt, the first woman to win the Dakar event outright, in 2001; StÃ©phane Henrard, who raced his own Volkswagen TDI-powered buggy in 2000; and Volkswagen test and rally driver Dieter Depping, making his cross-country rallying debut.
The Touareg will be launched in the UK next year, marking Volkswagen’s entry into the luxury off-road vehicle segment. An impressive range of engines includes a 220 PS 3.2-litre V6, 310 PS 4.2-litre V8 and 174 PS 2.5-litre five-cylinder TDI, plus the world’s most powerful passenger car diesel engine, the 5.0-litre V10 TDI with 313 PS.
Confirming its status as a ‘serious’ off-road vehicle are the Touareg’s permanent four-wheel drive; low ratio transfer gearbox; electronic traction control linked to an auto-locking centre differential lock; optional, selectable mechanical rear differential lock; and the availability of height-adjustable pneumatic suspension.
The new public website www.touareg-dakar.com provides comprehensive information regarding Volkswagen’s involvement in the Dakar Rally.