When the checkered flag fell on the 2009 Dakar Rally - an off-road race that wound through over 5000 km of varied terrain in Argentina - Volkswagen was declared the overall winner, claiming a 1-2 finish as well as the first diesel-powered victory in the history of the event.
The two TDI-engined Race Touaregs crossed the finish line almost nine minutes apart from each other, with the third-place finisher - a heavily-modified Hummer - reaching the finish over an hour later. Giniel de Villiers (RSA) and Dirk von Zitzewitz (Germany) formed the winning team, while the second-place Race Touareg was piloted by American Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford (RSA). The all-American team of Robby Gordon and Andy Grider fielded the third-place Hummer. Nissan clinched the fourth and fifth spots, while another Volkswagen finished the event in sixth place.
This year's Dakar Rally marked the first time the endurance event was not held in Africa, the race switching locations to Argentina due to terrorist threats in its native country. Volkswagen was able to secure a 1-2 finish for the first time since 1980, effectively stopping Mitsubishi's seven-year winning streak that began in 2002.
"I am so happy to have clinched it for Volkswagen," said De Villiers, following his team's win. "This victory is worth more to me than any of the titles I won in touring car racing. The key to our success was the Race Touareg, which ran like a charm throughout, and I want to thank everyone at Volkswagen for that. I won the first Dakar Rally not staged in Africa, and it was the toughest event I have ever contested: definitely a genuine Dakar Rally."