Today: an interview with the real Giniel. 😉
And here the transcription. Thank you Craig, you’re the best. 🙂
Q: What are your targets for Dakar rally?
GdV: (Laughs) I think, you know, it is pretty simple. The target is obviously to, to try to win the rally. I think we did a lot of hard work through the year. We did a lot of rallys this year, we did a lot of testing. The team has worked tremendously hard. So, for sure, the target is obviously to win it. If we can manage that, is a different question. But for sure, I mean that is our target, and we will do our utmost to achieve it. We will do our best, and you know we can only do our best, and as long as we do our best, the result which comes then, we have to be satisfied with. For sure, I think that is main target.
Q: Which other types which the Race Touareg 2 to is now feeling better now than some months ago? (What are the improvements to the Race Touareg 2 in the last months?)
GdV: There are a lot of things, you know. The main things are improvements on the suspension. We have done a lot of work on the suspension, we have, the team has done a lot of work on the engine. The engine has been improved quite a lot as well. And then there is a lot of small things on the car to make it more comfortable for the driver, the co-driver, which would make it a little bit easier. But I would say the man things is the suspension and the engine, basically.
Q: What is the strength of the team of VW?
GdV: I think the main thing is the people that work at VW, you know. I think that is the main strength. You know a team is only as strong as the people that work there, like I have just said now. I think that we really have a good bunch of people. We have proved that through out the year. We have won two rallys this year. You know everybody that works back at Hanover, at the Works shop and everybody that has put a lot of effort this year into making the Race Touareg improve that make it faster, you know, for this years rally. You know all of those people are important and I think that is really the strength of the team is that we work well together and that there is really a good team spirit within VW motorsports as a whole.
Q: You have won two races in the world cup, has these two wins strengthened you self-confidence?
GdV: Look, any win is always nice and important. I think any win will strengthen your confidence. The trick is to keep on doing it and to do it again in Dakar. But, for sure, I think for me and for Dirk it has helped our confidence, it has helped our working together as a team. And I think it has shown to the rest of the team that we can win races, which is also important, you know, because they have to have confidence in you. I was very happy with the way it went this year, so lets hope that it can continue in that way.
Q: Which impressions have you had in the testing with the Race Touareg 2
GdV: Very good impressions, I think that, like I said before, the team has done a great job in improving the car. I think that I am very impressed, especially with the new engine and with the suspension. IÂm really impressed with the improvements we have made and I think we have made big steps forward in both those areas. I think it will stand us in good stead when we get to Dakar, you know. We needed to make a couple of steps in those directions and especially in the sand, and sand driving. We have done a lot of testing in Tunisia. I think we have improved a lot in those areas.
Q: How is working with your co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz?
GdV: Very good! You know we have a very good relationship. We are good friends, I think we have the same since of humor, more or less. I certainly really enjoy working with him and we really have a good time in the car. Dirk is a very professional co-driver, and you know, he knows his job, and he does it very professionally. He does it absolutely correct. So far this year, we have really had a good time, and I think that it shows in the results. We have had one second and two firsts. You know, if you donÂt work together well, I donÂt think you can achieve those results
Q: How do you prepare personally for the Dakar rally?
GdV: Well personally I do a lot of training, physical training. I do a lot of cycling, I do a lot of gym work with a personal trainer of mine, to make sure I am in good physical shape before the race. So, for me that is quite important. The thing is if you are not fit you can not keep your concentration to the end of the race which is very, very important. For me that is a very important part of doing the race, is fitness, so I try to stay as fit as possible.
Q: Who are the strongest competitors for you?
GdV: Well again it will be Mitsubishi. They have won the race now a couple of years in a row, and I am sure, somebody has got to try and stop that now. I hope that we can achieve that. We will certainly try our level best and achieve that. But for sure, they are the main competition. BMW will also have a good team, and then of course Jean-Luis Schlesser with his Schlesser buggies is another strong team so, but I think the main opposition will be from Mitsubishi.
Q: Is there anything special that you have learned for last years Dakar?
GdV: You know, every Dakar you learn new things. You are never too old to learn. This will be my fifth Dakar and every Dakar I have learned something new. You must be prepared to learn. You know, it is a very hostile place in which we go driving, you know, in Africa, anything can happen. You must be prepared to learn and to take your experiences and to try and use them to improve on the following year. There is many things, I mean, there is no single thing that I can single out which I have certainly learned, but I think the whole, it has certainly made me, in the four years that I have done this, it has certainly made, I have gained a lot of experience. You know the experience and the familiarity with the desert helps a lot. The more you do it the better you get.
Q: That special fascination with this really long rally.
GdV: Well, I think it is just the, it is the pure adventure, really. It is an amazing adventure through the African desert. It is something that keeps you really humble. When you are out there, you know, you realize how small, you know, how small the world really is. You actually realize where we only fit in, you know, it is really quite a humbling experience. But, I would say the whole adventure through the desert, it is a tremendous experience, it is something I really enjoy.
Q: Is there any special place in Dakar, any special thing you like the most?
GdV: The finish. The finish, I certainly like Lac Rose the most, when we get to the finish. Especially if you have done well and you get to the podium, I donÃ¢ÂÂt think there is any other feeling that can beat that. So for sure, that would my favorite place.