If you've been following Truck Trend on Twitter (@TruckTrendcom) and Facebook, you know the 2010 Dakar Rally is under way in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As reported last month, Volkswagen's Amarok mid-sized truck has been named the official support vehicle of the Rally. Although not competing, the drivers of the Amarok support cars are still under constant pressure to keep up with or get ahead of the competitors.

The Amarok is set to arrive in the UK this September and is demonstrating its power, durability and off-road performance by following the Volkswagen Motorsport team currently taking part in the grueling Dakar rally across some of the toughest terrain in South America. VW has a total of 35 Volkswagen Amaroks support vehicles being used by the Volkswagen team and the official organizers, during this 5,600 mile event.

The Dakar rally started January 1st, and crosses the Andes to Antofagasta on the Pacific coast in Chile, before finishing back in Buenos Aires on January 17.The route includes navigating the vehicles along mountain passes at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters, as well as through the world's driest desert, the Atacama, exposing both the vehicles and their crews to extremely grueling tests.

"We are thrilled to put the new Amarok through its paces as part of this long distance challenge, the world's toughest, before its official launch," said Stephan Schaller, CEO of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

The new Amarok is equipped with an electronic differential lock (EDL) and Off-Road ABS to significantly shorten braking distances in off-road conditions or gravel roads. Also, for speeds less than 20 mph it activates Hill Descent Assist to control hill descents while the ESP Plus system includes Hill Hold Assist, which prevents the vehicle from rolling back by holding it in place on inclines until the driver presses the accelerator pedal.

The Amarok will be available in Europe as a four-door double cab version from launch with a single cab model to follow in 2011. There are currently no plans to sell the truck in the U.S.

Source: Newspress and Volkswagen Motorsports