Van den Brink makes up big time


Sometimes things happen, just because they have to. A few days ago Dutchman Martin van den Brink and Portugese Elisabete Jacinto clashed heavily and a fierce rivalry was born. But today, in the fourth stage of the Libya Rally, they had to make up. It was Van den Brink who pulled the truck of Jacinto back upright after she had toppled over in the dunes.


The Portugese, who just yesterday had taken the lead of the general standings, lost control of her MAN and rolled in the dunes. The Dutchman was the first at the scene and knew he couldn’t just pass. “A gentleman never leaves a lady in distress behind. I admit had I to step over my own shadow, but we had nothing to lose anyway. We knew we were leading and would gain a lot of time, even when helping them.”

Indeed the Mammoet Renault entered the bivouac in M’Hamid first, even though they lost some 30 minutes to countryman Jos Smink because of the rescue. “It was a good day,” Smink thought. “We really enjoyed the stage and especially the dunes. There were a few tricky dunes, but we never got into trouble. Actually we had good fun.”

The only point were the trucks – again – lost time was looking for a waypoint at km 163,8. “We drove back and forth a few times before we had it,” Smink admitted. 


Mirjam Pol builds a lead

Also the bike riders had difficulties in finding the waypoint. Even Mirjam Pol had to ride back twice and try again to catch it. “I went back one situation but came back to the same spot, which was wrong. So I rode back to the next situation in the roadbook and from there took the compass course to the right and that was the trick,” Pol explained. “I was afraid I lost quite some time. At the tankstop I was 12 to 14 minutes ahead of the others and I thought they would have caught up with me, but obviously they lost time looking as well. It was kind of a perfect day for me. I especially fancied the first part with the fesh-fesh. It was great fun and just my kind of terrain: a very soft motocross track.”

Behind Pol’s back a group of riders were playing hide and seek with each other. “I just love the dunes,” Dutchman Henno van Bergeijk tells. “Some guys were working their butts off but for me it is almost like a resting point. I keep the bike in second of third gear and let the bike do the work without even opening the gas or coming out of the saddle.”

The tricky part came after the dunes, in the final section of the special. “There was a group of three with Max Hunt, Richard Dors and another rider and they were on my tail, obviously hoping I would bring them to the waypoint. When I made a mistake they moved over to Michael Lundberg, and followed him. And then they came back to me. But I did find the waypoint and they didn’t.”

Max Hunt admitted he was trailing Van Bergeijk, hoping he would guide them. “I crashed heavily in the dunes,” the young Briton recalls. “A school boy’s mistake: I came over a dune a bit too fast and landed on the front wheel. It was a huge blow and I’m battered and bruised and my back feels sore. I tried to start the bike again but nothing happened. It took a while before I found out the fuses had been blown out in the crash. After that I caught up with Richard and Henno.” 

The other Swede, Mikael Berglund, the number 8 after stage 3, got lost as well. “I came to the waypoint from the wrong side – but at least I got it – and because of that I was a bit lost. It was on a flat and there were no real marking points, so I had to try different sides to find the right track. But it was an excellent stage. I actually enjoyed the dunes best, while normally that is not my favorite part. I’m more into navigation, but this time it was the other way around.”


Vanzinni gets lost, Allahoum first in the bivouac

Mexican José Vanzinni got lost for three hours trying to find the way. “It was a bad bad day,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we lost the lead Algerian Fodil Allahoum, like yesterday, was the first in the bivouac with the Plastub Wildcat and thought he was the winner of the day, but got 2 hours penalty. Allahoum is way behind in the standings after he got 20 hours penalty for missing stage 2 due to technical problems. “But I don’t care about the rankings,” he says. “I’m here to have fun and I’m succeeding. It’s nice to have won the stage though. Also today we drove fast and my navigator didn’t make mistakes, as far as I can see. But obviously we did, as we got another penalty.”

Ronald Schoolderman was the third car back in M’Hamid, to his surprise. “We spend 45 minutes looking as well, but obviously everybody was. But we had a good day. I used to be a bit scared for the dunes, but today I really enjoyed it. I might start to like them. The good thing is that after a bad day we had a good day yesterday and now others begin to realize we are actually quite fast and let us pass.” 


Stage neutralized after Waypoint 48

After waypoint 48 the stage of today has been neutralized, because there were too much problems around waypoint 49. The Participants had to follow the parallel path but it gradually merged together with the main path. Unfortunately, a lot of the participants made the same mistake and this was enough reason for the organization to neutralize the stage after waypoint 48 .

Morocco Desert Challenge