Volkswagen may not be returning to the Dakar Rally next year as a competitor – having already proven everything it has to prove – but don't count on seeing a desert completely bereft of VW badges altogether. That's because the German automaker will still be providing the support vehicles that the race organizers couldn't do without.

This will be the third year running that Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will be supplying the Dakar's support fleet. This year's comprises some 40 vehicles, including 30 Amarok pickups, specially equipped for the occasion.

Along the way F1 legend Jacky Ickx – who, not incidentally, won the Dakar for Mercedes-Benz in '83 – will be giving off-road racing lessons to those lucky enough. Follow the jump for the press blast as the contestants get ready to blast through the South American deserts themselves starting on New Year's Day.
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Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will return to the 2012 Dakar Rally as the event's official supplier for the third year. A fleet of nearly 40 vehicles, including 30 Amarok pick-ups, are being provided to the event's organisation team, the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), as support vehicles. These will be used throughout the event, regarded as the toughest marathon rally in the world, which takes place from 1 to 15 January.

The 2012 Dakar Rally will see competitors from across the world lining up at Mar del Plata, Argentina before the 9,000 kilometre course takes them on a journey through Chile and on to the finish at Lima in Peru.

On the rally's rest day, some important visitors will join the event with Formula One legend Jacky Ickx showing Scorpions rocker Rudolf Schenker and boxing world champion Dariusz Michalczewski how to handle the Amarok Automatic safely under off-road conditions. Also, windsurfers Bjoern Dunkerbeck, Klaas Voget and Robby Swift will head into the Atacama Desert to experience surfing on the dunes.

The Amaroks and other support vehicles will be subjected to some of the toughest and most extreme terrain on the planet during the two week event. As the event's official support vehicles, they must be able to deal with everything this really fierce course can throw at them – from the Atlantic to the Pacific, through the Atacama Desert to the Andes mountains, through canyons, and across different climate zones.

For more information on the Dakar Rally 2012, please visit

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