Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco from one extreme to the other

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The fifth stage of the Dakar 2016 was one with highs and lows for Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco. The day began in Jujuy with bad news as Ales Loprais could not make it to the start and was forced to abandon the rally. But at the end of the day, in Uyuni, there was good news as well when Federico Villagra claimed the lead in the general standings.

When the Iveco’s left from the marathon bivouac in Jujuy it was clear already that Loprais couldn’t make it. In the liaison after yesterday’s special stage the hub broke. “We could not fix it in time,” Loprais reported. “The problem occurred very unexpectedly. In the special we had no problems at all. Obviously I’m very disappointed, but I also know that it’s part of the game. It’s very unfortunate that it happened in the liaison of a marathon stage, without any assistance.”

With the mishap of their Czech team mate in mind the four remaining Iveco crews took it extra careful in the second part of the marathon stage, going into Bolivia. At the end of the day the overall result wasn’t too bad for the team. Federico Villagra and Ton van Genugten recorded exactly the same time after 327 kms of special stage (4.04.35), one with the Iveco Powerstar, the other with the Iveco Trakker, claiming third and fourth in the rankings. For Villagra it was just enough to take over the lead from Peter Versluis (MAN) by 5 seconds.

The Argentinian was very pleased with that result. “Yes, of course. It’s only 5 seconds, but the lead is the lead. The stage was difficult. It was easy to make a mistake. In the end of the stage we ran out of brakes, which made it even more difficult, but we finished and didn’t lose too much time.” Gerard de Rooy, starting first after claiming victory in stage 4, misjudged the circumstances in the opening fase of the special, that was run on a very high altitude (highest point of 4700 mtrs). “I was a bit too careful. I decided to wait for the two MAN’s to arrive and that was a mistake,” De Rooy admitted. “Because soon after they arrived it started to rain and I’m not fond at all with mud and slippery tracks. My pace was simply too low. In the final part I could make up a bit but I had lost too much already.” De Rooy finished in eight, 7.27 short of stage winner Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz).

Despite his own disappointment and the loss of Ales Loprais De Rooy was pleased with the team result. “It’s a pity we lost Ales, but Federico and Ton are doing great. The team strategy seems to be working well, but we have to watch out. Kamaz was strong today and the gaps are still very small. There is just 21 seconds between number 1 and 3 in the standings.”