Volkswagen will field not one but five race-spec Touaregs early next year as the team bids to defend one of the most challenging international motorsport events, the Dakar Rally.

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Taking place across the South American continent for the second consecutive year, the 31st ‘Dakar’ Rally will see the five Volkswagen teams encountering some of the most demanding terrain on the planet.

The 2010 ‘Dakar’ Rally course starts from Buenos Aires in Argentina on 1 January.  The five teams will be tested to the limits, travelling 9,000 kilometres across the Andes, through the Atacama desert’s demanding dune fields in the north of Chile and back, with altitudes exceeding 4,700 metres above sea-level.  It was over this terrain that Volkswagen made history in 2009 with the Race Touareg becoming the first diesel-powered vehicle to win the legendary event.

Last year Volkswagen's race-spec Touaregs, powered by 2.5-litre TDI engines, won 10 out of a possible 13 stage wins on the way to clinching a famous one-two victory.