Volkswagen is entering five Race Touaregs in next year’s Dakar Rally in its attempts to retain the prestigious trophy.
The firm won the rally last year with its Touareg rally concept, which is powered by a 2.5-litre TDI producing 276bhp. The car won topped the timesheets in 10 of the 13 stages to claim a one-two finish, topped by winning pair Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz.
Mitsubishi has traditionally dominated the event in recent years, but it pulled out of front-line rallying, including the WRC and Dakar, to cut costs in the global durntown. No Dakar was held in 2008 and it switched to South America last year for the first time, in an event dominated by Volkswagen.
Volkswagen motorsport director, Kris Nissen, says the firm uses Dakar as a showcase for its diesel technology and it believes its Touareg is the fastest and most reliable diesel concept rally car in the world.
The German firm will be joined on the entry list by two Chinese manufacturers aiming to boost their profile on the world stage by being competitive in a frontline motorsport event.
Chery will enter its flagship Reely X5 SUV for the event, while Greatwall’s challenger will be its best-selling Hover SUV.
Limited details are available on Greatwall’s effort, but Reely’s X5 can tackle water hazards with a depth of more than 600mm and hills with a gradient of 60 per cent.
The Dakar Rally begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 1 January.