Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 teaser – Click above for high-res image

While the latter years of the Dakar rally (when it was actually held in Dakar) may have belonged to the Mitsubishi Pajero, in the past two years since the premiere rally-raid event was moved from its namesake in North Africa to South America, Volkswagen has dominated with its Race Touareg. But if the German automaker hopes to make it a hat-trick, warned their winning driver Carlos Sainz (a two-time World Rally Champion to boot), they'd need a significantly improved vehicle.

Our spy photographers caught a glimpse of the new Race Touareg undergoing testing in the Alps last month, and although they've only released this singulae teaser image, Volkswagen has now confirmed the vehicle's development.

Dubbed (predictably enough) the Race Touareg 3, the new rally-raid machine closely follows the mechanical formula laid out by the victorious Race Touareg 2, but will sport some vital improvements. These will principally center around the aerodynamics, picking up design cues from the new production Touareg 2 along the way.

Desert testing is slated to commence later this month in Morocco, after which the Race Touareg 3 will endure its first real trial by fire in campaigning the Silk Way Rally across Russia in September before hitting the Dakar Rally next January. Official press release after the jump.

[Source: Volkswagen]
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Volkswagen develops Race Touareg 3 for the 2011 Dakar Rally

Wolfsburg (06 July 2010). New design, proven technology: Volkswagen is developing an evolution model of the Race Touareg that has been victorious twice in a row for the 2011 Dakar Rally in South America. In January 2011 the Wolfsburg-based car manufacturer will field four Race Tourareg 3 vehicles with fundamentally updated aerodynamics at the desert classic through Argentina and Chile. The cross-country rally vehicle follows the latest production model change and picks up concrete characteristics of the avant-garde shape of the Touareg II. As a result, the new Race Touareg incorporates its outstanding vehicle dynamics qualities in an even more athletic outer skin than before, with proven and extremely successful technology underneath: the TDI engine with an approximate power output of 300 hp as well as the suspension and chassis basically remain untouched.

"The evolution of the vehicle into the Race Touareg 3 represents the next logical step we're taking towards our big aim of achieving the hat-trick at the Dakar Rally," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "With new aerodynamics this Race Touareg will look even more spectacular than before, while quoting aspects of the design language of the new production Touareg and, in addition, receiving further detailed optimizations. Its core is well proven because we continue to bank on the consistently optimised technology package that has been giving the Race Touareg first-rate performance and maximum reliability."

Evolution in steps: Race Touareg 3 with a new face

Newly designed and updated: the Race Touareg 3 is by no means a completely new development. It continues to be based on the basic engineering design of the Race Touareg 2 that was introduced in 2005. Since then the cross-country rally prototype with its innovative TDI engine has gone through an evolution in the area of the powertrain and suspension across several steps. In the step towards the Race Touareg 3 the main focus is on the new outer skin.

Tests with the Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 in the deserts of Morocco at the end of July will literally ring in the hot phase of the development programme. The extensive tests including the simulation of several rally distances will be followed by the official unveiling of the vehicle in August. In autumn the Race Touareg 3 will have its baptism of fire in competition with others: the Silk Way Rally through Russia which starts in St. Petersburg and ends in Sochi (11–18 September 2010) is regarded as a serious dress rehearsal for the legendary Dakar Rally (01–16 January 2011).

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