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Wolfsburg (29th April 2005).
Volkswagen claim two new high-calibre team members for the 2006 Dakar
Rally event: The South African Giniel de Villiers and the Swedish lady
Tina Thörner strengthen the Volkswagen Motorsport team as 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
team mate 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.”
Experienced Giniel de Villiers at the
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 team
mates 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
"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.
Tina Thörner – the perfect partner in the co-driver’s seat
Tina Thörner is perfect candidate as co-driver for de Villiers.
"We contested two rallies together during the 2003 season and won the
Moroccan Rally”, explains de Villiers.
"Tina is very experienced, particularly in the Dakar Rally, and we also
get on exceptionally well outside the cockpit which is an excellent
basis for the long Cross Country Rally events.”
The 39-year old Swede competed as co-driver in the World Rally
Championship between 1985 and 1998, before switching to Cross Country
Rallying where she worked together with various drivers including Jutta
"I drove for Skoda in the World Rally Championship and my partner
Mattias Ekström competes for Audi in touring cars. I am all the
more pleased that I now have the chance to drive for the Volkswagen
works team”, explains Tina Thörner, who speaks fluent German and
also presents automobile programmes for Swedish television.
"I have complete and utter confidence in Giniel since he and I
contested two rallies together in the past and also worked together in
the same team later. Giniel is a very good driver, he is able to assess
the track conditions perfectly and drive tactically – skills that pay
dividends in the Dakar Rally.”
Guest appearance in ADAC Volkswagen
Polo Cup at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz
Giniel de Villiers revisits his roots in his first competition for
He drives the VIP car at the second round of the ADAC Volkswagen Polo
Cup at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz (29 April to 1 May).
De Villiers was regarded as one of the most successful touring car
drivers in his homeland before swapping to cross country rallying.
De Villiers is highly motivated before his one-off guest appearance in
the "Touring Car School”, held with powerful 150 PS Race-Polos.
"I’m really excited about my guest start in the Polo Cup, since it is
almost ten years ago that I last drove such a small car in competition.
I drove a Super Touring Car with a sequential gearbox in the last
circuit races in which I competed in up to the year 2000.
That’s one reason why I’m even more intrigued than ever to see how I
compare with the ‘stars of tomorrow.”