Three punctures prevent De Rooy from winning
Three punctures caused by stones and rocks in the Moroccan desert prevented Gerard de Rooy from winning the first stage of the OiLibya Rally. De Rooy overtook 22 cars on his way to CP2, halfway through the 370 kms long special stage, which he passed with the fastest time so far. From there three punctures caused almost half an hour delay, and saw De Rooy drop back to finish sixth with the trucks. Team mates Federico Villagra (second), Ales Loprais (third) and Ton van Genugten (fourth) finished in front of Team Petronas Iveco De Rooy’s captain.
“It was a great special,” De Rooy commented at the finish. “But it was very hard on the tyres. Actually that was quite good for us as we are testing new rims. Close to CP2, after overtaking many cars, we had our first puncture. We managed to pump it but we had to change it eventually after the CP.”
After changing the wheel De Rooy was able to close in on fellow countryman Martin van den Brink again. “We were on his tail but he refused to pull over to let us pass, even while we were faster. I tried to pass him in all possible ways: through the stones, by cutting the corners, but it didn’t work and in the end we got a second puncture.”
De Rooy only had two spare wheels with him and thus it was very inconvenient that shortly after changing the wheel a rock damaged the rim, causing another puncture. “We had to wait for Ton van Genugten to give us one of his. Luckily he wasn’t too far behind and the third puncture cost us some 18 minutes all together. We drove carefully to the finish to avoid another puncture. All in all I’m not unsatisfied: three punctures have cost us only 28 minutes. Not too bad. Except for the punctures I really enjoyed myself today.”
Also Van Genugten was pretty satisfied, as he finished in fourth in just his first day of racing in the Iveco. “Not just satisfied, but very happy. We had to start from way behind in the field and found quite some resistance on our way. Two trucks simply didn’t let us pass. We had to try to overtake them on the outside, through the stones. It was pretty risky, but very satisfying after we succeeded without punctures.”
Van Genugten managed to finish as sixth overall in the Open Class after starting from 36th, even after halting to assist De Rooy. “It was quite a tough day to start with, but the truck is really superb and the result is absolutely promising.”