De Rooy surprised by huge differences
He didn’t win the stage, but Gerard de Rooy was the big winner of the tenth stage of the Dakar 2016. Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco’s captain took a lead of one hour and 15 minutes to the number 2. Yesterday that was Eduard Nikolaev, but in the notorious dunes of Fiambalá the Russian lost over three hours, like his compatriot Karginov. “Unbelievable differences,” De Rooy said, amazed. “Kamaz took a gamble and lost.”
It took more than an hour after Gerard de Rooy had finished before the next truck crossed the line: Federico Villagra with the other Iveco Powerstar. Another half hour later Ton van Genugten brought his Trakker to the end of the stage. And then it lasted for ages. “I didn’t understand,” Gerard de Rooy tells. “But it was great news anyhow.”
The three Iveco’s and the Kamaz’s of Nikolaev and Karginov took the start of the special two hours ahead of the other trucks, together with the top 10 cars. Because of this so called Super Start there were no tracks at all and the Iveco-navigators Moi Torrallardona, Jorge Companc and Anton van Limpt had a serious job to do.
“Normally there are quite some cars ahead of us, but now there were no trails at all,” De Rooy explains. “For the first 50 kms it was chaos. Stéphane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah came driving back. Everybody was mixed up. But after that first part, is was okay.”
After 107 kms into the special the trucks had to take a break for 15 minutes. De Rooy saw his team mates Villagra and Van Genugten entering the waiting zone, but there was no sign of a Kamaz. “I thought that was quite funny,” De Rooy said. At that point Villagra had recorded the best partial time, followed by Van Genugten at 6 minutes and De Rooy at 12 minutes.
Only after the break the game was on for real. “It was really difficult,” De Rooy describes. “Low dunes, but super soft sand. Many steps, a lot of steering through the molehills. I almost toppled over. It was a narrow escape.”
In the last bit tot he finish De Rooy suffered two punctures. They changed the first one, but on the advice of mechanic Darek Rodewald they left the second one undone. De Rooy: “It was only 12 kms to the finish line. Changing the tyre would cost more time than to go on like this. At the finish the tyre was completely destroyed. As was the rim.”
De Rooy’s punctures were peanuts compared to what others ran into. The air hose of Villagra’s Powerstar broke twice. Van Genugten was stuck in the sand for one and a half hour. An attempt by Villagra to pull him out was to no purpose. “We had to dig it out,” Van Genugten recalls.
Back on track Van Genugten saw a Kamaz on its side, but as they had not shown any intention of helping out the Iveco, the Dutchman continued. At the finish line Villagra had lost some 50 minutes to De Rooy, Van Genugten gave in one and a half hour.
The trucks that had started two later gained profit from the tracks of the first five. Dutchman Pascal de Baar (Renault) took the stage win by surprise. Airat Mardeev recorded the third fastest time. While his compatriots lost over three hours the 2015 champion took over second place in the general standings, 1.15.19 behind De Rooy. Federico Villagra is the second Iveco in the top 3, at a distance of 1.32.47. Despite the digging Ton van Genugten held on to fifth. “A blessing in disguise, but still I’m pretty pissed off,” the driver of the Iveco Trakker said. Nikolaev plummet to tenth, with Pep Vila and his Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco on his heels.
“A margin of more than an hour is quite comfortable,” De Rooy said. “With three stages to go I’m not going to take any more risks. As far as I’m concerned Kamaz can take the next three specials.”