Three crews to keep Team De Rooy honours up  

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Federico Villagra, Artur Ardavichus and Ton van Genugten carry a huge responsibility of keeping up the honours of Team De Rooy in the 2018 Dakar Rally with two times champion Gerard de Rooy competing in the Africa Race. All three of them will be racing with the winning Iveco Powerstar. “It’s up to us now and for me it is quite a big thing to have number 501 on the truck”, Villagra says on the eve of the start of the 40th Dakar.

The Argentinian is eager to start. Of course Villagra feels a certain pressure now that he is the flag carrier for Team De Rooy Iveco in only his third entry with the truck. “The first five days in the dunes in Peru will be important. I have no experience in Peru, but I love the sand and the Iveco Powerstar has proven to be very competitive in the dunes. We’ll have to be very concentrated in order to avoid making mistakes, as they will cost a lot of time. I hope to do an intelligent race, but for sure we’ll have to push right from the start.”

Second Iveco on the list, with number 508, is Artur Ardavichus from Kazachstan. Back in 2012, when Gerard de Rooy won for the first time, he finished third at the wheel of a Kamaz. After racing with Tatra and MAN the 2018 Dakar is his first with Team De Rooy Iveco, much to his delight. “It’s a top truck. It’s the winning truck driven by Gerard two years ago. It’s the same technically and I know this truck; I have driven it in the Silk Way and the OiLibya Rally.”

After being on the podium once before, Ardavichus – accompanied by Belgian navigator Serge Bruynkens and Dutch mechanic Michel Huisman – is aiming to repeat that performance. “I’m hoping for a good result in this race. Anyway, I’m very happy to be number 508, the closest starting number I’ve been to the leading positions. I need to show I can drive a good, fast and safe race, that’s my objective. I cannot wait for the dunes; I love the dunes. I’m just going to attack, attack and attack.”

Right behind Ardavichus in the starting order, with number 509, is Dutchman Ton van Genugten. After acting as backup driver for Gerard de Rooy twice he now has a free role. “For the first time I am able to drive the Iveco Powerstar, which is much different to the Trakker I was used to. The engine is the same, but because of the nose the Powerstar is a lot easier to drive. Not having to wait or stop gives me the opportunity to make my own race, although all three of us realize we will have to work together to challenge Kamaz.”

Van Genugten, with Belgian navigator Peter Willemsen and Dutch mechanic Bernard der Kinderen (a former Dakar winner as well, in 2007 with Hans Stacey) at his side, is happy with a start in the dunes. “The starting numbers are less important to when we would have started on the WRC like tracks in Argentina. You can’t win the Dakar in the dunes we’ll have the first days, but there is everything to lose.”