Gerard de Rooy satisfied with week of testing in Silk Way Rally

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The main purpose of Gerard de Rooy at the Silk Way Rally was testing his new truck. “In a race the teething problems will come out. On top of that I have a reference, because everybody is here. I now know what the truck is capable of and what it needs”, De Rooy tells at the rest day in Urumqi, where the mechanics are working hard to get the Iveco Powerstar ready for the remaining six stages of the Silk Way Rally.

A race – a tough one especially – is an important moment in developing a truck. “Halfway last year we started drawing”, De Rooy explains. “This truck was completely developed on the computer. After the Dakar Rally we began building it and now we are here to test it. Only in a race the teething problems will come out. If nothing really strange happens next week, we’ll get the truck ready for the OiLibya Rally in Morocco. If strange things do happen, we’ll go there just for testing. When everything works well, I’ll drive this truck in the Africa Race. If not, I’ll drive my old truck in Africa and the fast assistance will go with the new one, for further testing and making miles.”

In the past week De Rooy got to know the pros and cons of the independent suspension of the Iveco Powerstar a bit better. In the first few days (in the mud) the performance was excellent. “The traction was good, the grip was good. The wheels want to feel everything. That was a bit of a disadvantage in the more bumpy stages. We had to find a compromise, for example in setting up the springs.”

De Rooy had expected things would turn up and break. “I thought the axels could break or something else could simply fall off. But I didn’t expect the cab would turn out to be a problem. When the frame barrier broke, we had to stop racing to avoid further damage that we may not be able to repair. The steerage that got broken is more or less collateral damage. Thursday’s stage was very hard for the truck. Yesterday was the last bit. We now know what happens, what parts are under more pressure because of the new parts.”

Concerning the second week the dunes are going to be interesting. If all works out as De Rooy hopes, the truck will fly through the dunes. “But we’ll have to see what happens once we are there. The dunes of the Gobi desert were one of the reasons for me to be here. We missed those in 2008 when the turbo broke, and I’m looking forward to it ever since.”

Van Genugten is learning in the Silk Way Rally

Ton van Genugten, in eighth in the standings at the rest day, had hoped for a bit more at the start of the Silk Way Rally. “But we knew our main purpose to be here was to help Gerard test the new truck. Being fast assistance in the race is difficult sometimes, because you want to go faster, but we have been of value here. Even more than in the Dakar and that make the result easier to accept.”

Yesterday, in stage 8, Van Genugten and his crew in the Iveco Trakker were badly needed for the first time actually. “Over the past few years we had to help changing tires and that sort of things, but this was real trouble with the broken steerage. It is good to be of help.”

In one week of Silk Way Rally Van Genugten has learned more than in three or four Dakar Rallies, he thinks. “We’ve been through a lot more. Racing here is different. The special stages in Russia and Kazakhstan were more difficult and more dangerous, because the ‘danger notes’ in the roadbook weren’t always correct.”

Also in terms of driving Van Genugten learned a lot. To drive like the Kamaz armada for example. “If they can do it, I should too. Earlier in the week I made the mistake of braking where I should have given more gas, like the two Kamaz’ in front of me. The soil was slippery and because of that the axle of my Iveco hit the side of a hole. I thought it was over, but we managed to repair the truck ourselves and get it to the bivouac driving. That was another useful lesson.”

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Silk Way Rally