The 2010 Dakar Rally, which is no longer run in Africa due to terrorism threats, kicked off from its designated starting point in Argentina on January 1st. Eventually, the competitors will end up back in Buenos Aires on January 17th, but not before traversing 5,600 miles of some of the toughest terrain on the planet.
This year, Volkswagen will be having a rather large presence at the Rally with four race-prepped Touareg SUVs taking part in the event along with 35 Amarok pickups that are acting as support vehicles. In the process, we imagine that the drivers will have plenty of opportunity to put the ridiculously named truck's electronic differential lock, Off-Road ABS, Hill Descent Assist, ESP Plus system and Hill Hold Assist to the test.
Volkswagen would like you to know that the Amarok will be available starting this September in the UK, but has given numerous indications that it won't be coming Stateside. Anyway, hit the jump for the press release and check out the high-res image gallery below of the truck gettin' its rally on.
VOLKSWAGEN AMAROK PICK-UP TAKES ON DAKAR RALLY
Eight months before it arrives in the UK this September, the new Volkswagen pick-up, the Amarok, is demonstrating its power, durability and off-road performance by following the Volkswagen Motorsport team currently taking part in the gruelling Dakar rally across some of the toughest terrain in South America.
There are a total of 35 Volkswagen Amaroks being used as support vehicles by the Volkswagen team and the official organisers, ASO, throughout this year's 5,600 mile event. The Dakar rally started from Buenos Aires in Argentina on 1 January, and crosses the Andes to Antofagasta on the Pacific coast in Chile, before taking a more southern route to the finish back in Buenos Aires on 17 January.
The route includes navigating the vehicles along mountain passes at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres, as well as through the world's driest desert, the Atacama, exposing both the vehicles and their crews to extremely gruelling tests. Although not competing, the drivers of the Amarok support cars are still under constant pressure to keep up with or to get ahead of the competitors.
'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.
More details, images and videos of the new Amarok, as well as a daily blog from the Dakar rally is available from www.volkswagenamarok.co.uk.
Designed to tackle the toughest off-road terrain, the new Amarok is offered with an electronic differential lock (EDL) and Off-Road ABS to significantly shorten braking distances in off-road conditions or gravel roads. At speeds under 20 mph it also 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 as a four-door double cab version from launch with a single cab model to follow in 2011. It combines the robustness of a pick-up with innovative technology, high safety standards, excellent fuel economy and Volkswagen's renowned standards of comfort, quality and durability.