UPDATE - Flat tyres cost Gerard de Rooy a lot of time

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Gerard de Rooy lost a lot of time in the third stage of the Dakar Rally. The 2016 winner had a problem with the tyre inflation system of his Iveco Powerstar in the first part of the stage. "We had three tyres losing pressure because of that," Gerard de Rooy explained. "And that also meant we couldn't inflate them." De Rooy finished 34:16 behind the stage winner Eduard Nikolaev. He fell to thirteenth place in the overall classification.

The third stage, from Tucuman to Jujuy, caused a veritable bloodbath in all of the classes. De Rooy was far from the only competitor to lose (a lot) of time. Several vehicles, including both Ton van Genugten and Wuf van Ginkel, missed a hidden waypoint, for which they were handed a 20-minute penalty.

The 199 kilometre stage had been chopped into two parts: a first section of 72 kilometres, then a long connecting stage by road, and then another 127 kilometres at an altitude of over 4000 metres. De Rooy ran into problems early in the first section. First, the rear tyres deflated, but De Rooy and his crew managed to swap those with the two spare wheels they had with them. "But then one of the front tyres went flat. We had to stop six times to pump it back up by hand."

Along the connecting section, De Rooy swapped his two flat tyres with two of Wuf van Ginkel's good ones. "The second section went off without a hitch," De Rooy said. "I could push on, making sure I didn't lose any more time, though I took it easy in a couple of the difficult sections to make sure I didn't get another flat. But I have to say the Powerstar performed superbly in the thin air at altitude."

Gerard de Rooy's tyre troubles aside, the third stage turned out extremely well for Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco. Ton van Genugten looked to be on his way to victory, but had to settle for third place at 1 minute and 1 second from Nikolaev. That was before the time penalty for missing the hidden waypoint. "Today went great. This really was my stage. We were right on Nikolaev's heels in the dust. The helicopter flying overhead was throwing up even more dust. That caused us to take the wrong trail. The annoying thing about a hidden waypoint is that you don't realise it until you get to the next one. It would have cost us just as much time to drive back to it, and we'd just passed Nikolaev and were out of his dust. So we took a gamble, but it's a real shame." The consequence of the penalty was that Van Genugten ended up in twelfth in both the stage and the overall rankings.

Wuf van Ginkel also missed the same waypoint. Team De Rooy's fast assistance truck had a good day and scored the tenth fastest time, 13 minutes slower than the winner. But he too was hit with a 20-minute time penalty, leaving him in sixteenth in the stage result and 22nd in the general standings.

That means that Federico Villagra is the best Iveco in the overall standings, in third at just 4 minutes and 7 seconds of classification leader Eduard Nikolaev. Thanks to Van Genugten's penalty Villagra moved up from fourth to third in the stage results.