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by Tim Beissmann

Volkswagen has unveiled the vehicle it hopes will help it achieve a three-peat of the Dakar Rally in 2011: the Race Touareg 3.

Following the success of the Race Touareg 2, which won the previous two rallies and became the first diesel-powered vehicle to win the event, Volkswagen says the new desert racer will be faster and more efficient than the old model, and retain its world-beating strength and durability.

The 2.5-litre twin-turbocharged TDI engine is the same, producing 221kW and 600Nm of torque, but has been optimised for greater economy and revised to cope better with the severe altitude, which peaks at more than 4500 metres above sea level.

The upgraded five-speed sequential transmission and ZF-Sachs three-plate ceramic clutch are linked to three limited slip differentials, leading to acceleration from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 188km/h in almost all conditions.

Wind tunnel testing has led to changes in the Kevlar and carbon fibre bodywork with attention given to improving the cooling systems around the vehicle’s roof. The upgrade to the road-going Touareg also sees the Race Touareg 3 adopt a new grille, new LED lights, revised window line and rear clamshell and new wheels.

With the 2011 Dakar Rally beginning on January 1 next year, Volkswagen says it has already put its title defender through 10,000km of shakedown tests on simulated special stages, more than twice the length of the rally itself, in preparation for the world’s most punishing motor race.




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