Team De Rooy ready for the final countdown
Shakedown: done. New year’s eve barbecue: done. Scrutineering: done. All 17 cars and trucks and all 50 members of Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco have passed scrutineering at the Tecnopolis complex in Buenos Aires and now the final countdown to the start of the Dakar 2016 has begun.
Gerard de Rooy was one of the last of the team to pass scrutineering today, as he had to go back first to pick up a crucial document: his driver’s licence. “We are with a big team, with many nationalities and it takes a lot of organizing. In the hurry this morning I forgot my driver’s licence.” Team De Rooy had to line up early on new year’s day: they were the first in line for scrutineering at 7.00 local time. “So no big party on new year’s eve, but a nice team barbecue after we had a shakedown test with the trucks,” De Rooy tells.
With all the paper work done, the captain of the team is looking forward to Saturday. The prologue is only 11 kms but might be crucial already. “One mistake can cost a lot of time. Lose ten minutes and you’ll have to start from the back of the field in the first stage, which will be on narrow tracks.”
Team strategy will be important right from the start, Ales Loprais believes. “But not only that. Everything has to fit perfectly: the truck, mechanics, navigation, piloting of course. The first few days, already in the prologue, it will be a matter of seconds. You can’t win the Dakar in the first days, but one puncture can cost you a lot.”
Team strategy and technics were the main reasons for the Czech driver to join Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco. “All trucks I have driven in the past few years were competitive, but in this team the structure is really good and that is important. I came here for the team: good support, good mechanics and good drivers who can work together in a strong strategy setup. The Dakar is a team job.”
For Federico Villagra the team work is new, as is driving a truck. The Argentinian might play a crucial role in the team, with his knowledge of the terrain. “Although it is completely different with a car compared to a truck,” Villagra knows. “I’ve never competed in a team like this and working with team strategy is a learning process as well as driving the truck. I know the tracks well, but it is the Dakar. You can never push as hard as you think you can. Missing the corner is easy and then you have a big problem. Especially with the weather. The Cordoba area has many rivers. Rain high up in the mountains can change everything and then the situation will be new for me as well.”
At the time it is not clear yet at what time the trucks will start the prologue. Originally the first trucks were scheduled at 20.00 local time, but because of the weather conditions race directions is looking to change the schedule.