Jan 10, 2016
Entering the neutralized zone of the seventh stage of the Dakar a sensational surprise seemed to occur. Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco fast assistance Ton van Genugten had recorded the best partial time of the day so far. But in the final 100 kms of the stage the Dutchman had to give up his chances of winning as the team interest is always the priority.
Van Genugten had to pull over to assist team mate Federico Villagra replacing a tyre. The puncture cost Van Genugten 9 minutes, but Villagra suffered an even bigger loss of 13.46. Gerard de Rooy crossed the finish line of the 336 kms long special from Uyuni in Bolivia to Salta in Argentina in fourth, 2.11 down to stage winner Eduard Nikolaev. A small mistake in navigation had cost the #501 Iveco Powerstar a minute or so.
The seventh stage turned out to be pretty eventful and caused a big shift in the general standings. At the eve of the rest day Gerard de Rooy moved up to second, 5.31 down to fellow Dutchman Peter Versluis. The puncture cost Federico Villagra dearly, as he dropped down from third to sixth, 15.35 behind. Ton van Genugten on the other hand moved up to seventh, while Pep Vila remained in twelfth.
“We were doing great and it’s a real shame we had to stop to help Federico,” Van Genugten said. “But that’s our main task: helping Gerard and Federico when needed. We couldn’t just leave them. Knowing that we are capable of winning a stage is just fantastic. We had great fun.”
Some 20 kms before entering the neutralized zone Gerard de Rooy overtook Hans Stacey, who started the special in first. It was clear to De Rooy his cousin and rival had a problem. “I took it quite easy in the beginning as it was raining and the course was wet and slippery. Actually I was quite surprised that I saw Stacey, but decided to pass him anyway. I knew that from then on we had to open the stage as the first truck. Opening the track is always a risk, as the trucks behind you can use your tracks as a reference and so they can catch up. In the second part we made a small mistake in navigation and that cost us a minute or so.”
Beforehand De Rooy didn’t expect the stage to be this eventful, with so many changes in the standings. “The second week is going to be really interesting. It’s obvious that the battle is on.”
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