Stage victory for Gerard de Rooy
Gerard de Rooy recorded his 28th ever stage victory today in the fourth stage of the Dakar. The 2012 champion beat his fellow Dutchmen Peter Versluis (+00.37) and Hans Stacey (+01.18) in the 419 kms loop high up in the Andes mountains. Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco team mate Federico Villagra set the fourth fastest time of the day and remains some 3 minutes ahead of De Rooy in the general standings.
The stage was held under perfect conditions. The downpours that nearly drowned the bivouac in Jujuy last night didn’t reach the high altitude (3500 mtr) where the special was run. For the first time this Dakar the stage was not altered or shortened. De Rooy used every inch of the special after starting in eighth.
Team mate Ton van Genugten, who took off in sixth, immediately moved his Trakker aside to let the #501 Powerstar pass. De Rooy was able to drive in maximum speed almost all the time. “We pushed quite hard today,” De Rooy tells. “The Powerstar was great, even on altitude. It wasn’t a difficult stage, just fast. There were just four of five parts that were a bit more technical, but mostly it was straight on with 140 kms/h. Not very interesting, but because of the speed it could be a bit tricky. We made no mistakes.”
Already halfway through the 419 kms De Rooy overtook Viazovich (MAZ) who had started in seventh. But more to his surprise was that quite soon after the MAZ they got the Kamaz of Mardeev (started in fifth) in sight. “I didn’t expect him so soon,” De Rooy says. “Nor did I expect that I would close in on him this easily. I stayed with him and crossed the finish line 10 seconds behind him. It seems obvious our Russian friends have problems.”
For De Rooy it had been since stage 12 in 2014 to win a stage. “It’s good to be back in front and fighting for victory. I didn’t gain much in the standings, but it’s still early days.”
In the general standings Peter Versluis (MAN) took over the lead from his team mate Hans Stacey. Federico Villagra remains in third, De Rooy in fourth. Ales Loprais drove his Iveco Powerstar to eighth in the stage and is in the same position overall. Despite waiting for De Rooy and thus giving in 4 minutes, Ton van Genugten recorded tenth position in the special, 6.08 from his captain. The Dutchman held on to sixth in the standings. Pep Vila, driving the second Trakker, finished in twelfth and now is fourteenth in the overall results.
Like all vehicles the five Iveco’s have to be left in a parc fermé tonight and no work is allowed to be done. The service team has already left for Bolivia, but also the race crews are not allowed to do any maintenance.