Volkswagen has won the 2011 Dakar Rally, making it the third successive win in the event for the brand, and Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah has become the first Arab to win the race. VW entered four Race Touareg 3 teams in the 32nd running of the Dakar (there was no race in 2008), and was rewarded with a much celebrated one-two-three finish in the race through Argentina and Chile.

In his sixth outing in the event, Al-Attiyah, together with co-driver Timo Gottschalk, finished ahead of the other Race Touareg 3 driver/co-driver pairs of Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford completed the solid Volkswagen team performance with a sixth place finish.

As a result, VW is the only manufacturer to have won the automobile category in the desert classic with diesel technology – and remains unbeaten on the South American continent. It also continued the success story of enviable reliability – VW has not recorded a single technically related retirement in cross country rallying in four years.

The third-generation Race Touareg, equipped with a 2.5 litre five-cylinder TDI engine and permanent four-wheel drive, aced the event, shrugging off the boiling heat in Chile’s Atacama Desert and the extreme conditions in the notorious dunes in the Sierras Pampeanas around Fiambalá in Argentina.

Other numbers to celebrate – VW won 12 of a possible 13 stage victories in the 9,600 km long event, with Sainz bagging seven, Al-Attiyah four and de Villeiers one. Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz’s stage victory on the way to Buenos Aires made it stage win number 24 in the Dakar for the legendary Spaniard, surpassing the 23 stage victories scored in the car class by Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel.