Jan 08, 2017
Gerard de Rooy enters the second week of the 2017 Dakar Rally firmly in the lead. The defending champion stamped his authority on the first week of the race with two stage victories. Finding himself leading the race doesn’t put any extra pressure on the Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco leader. Quite the opposite: De Rooy is revelling in his position.
The first week of the 2017 Dakar was an eventful one for Team De Rooy. Losing half an hour in the third stage was a disappointment for Gerard de Rooy, but De Rooy immediately hit back with two convincing stage victories. Federico Villagra, also driving an Iveco Powerstar, was the team’s best classified truck for a few days, but dropped back to sixth place in the difficult fifth stage.
Further behind the leaders, Ton van Genugten and Wuf van Ginkel both ran into trouble. Van Genugten started the fifth stage in seventh place, but got stuck in the mud. Van Ginkel, who stopped to help his teammate, found himself also stuck axle-deep in the mud shortly afterwards. They won’t be a factor in the general classification, but can still be of decisive importance for Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco in a support role to De Rooy and Villagra.
Gerard de Rooy – 1
“I don’t think it’s too early to be leading the race. It doesn’t matter all that much to me at the moment, because it can change again just like that. That wouldn’t be too bad, just as long as I don’t lose too much time. The classification has been a bit of a lottery. I wasn’t even the fastest truck in the last few days, but I was the smartest. Keeping your wits about you and not making any mistakes, that’s what it’s all about. Next week, navigation is going to get more difficult and the terrain is going to get tougher. Luckily, I’ve led the race before and know what I need to do. The battle with Kamaz has been fair. The racing has been very sportsmanlike, they let me past them and I let them past me. That rivalry is great, but I expect it to get harder. So it’s going to be important for Federico and Ton stay close to me.”
Federico Villagra – 6
“I’m really happy with how the race has gone so far. The Powerstar is really great. We made a couple of mistakes in the fifth stage. That’s a shame, as it cost us a place in the provisional top 3. But the gaps are still small, so nothing is lost yet. Sixth position is a good place to be going into the second week. It’s going to be important to stay competitive at the front of the race. For ourselves, and to be able to support Gerard. Anything can still happen.”
Ton van Genugten – 23
“Things were going fairly well until the fifth stage. A few mistakes that cost us time penalties, but nothing we couldn’t overcome. Being stuck in the mud for three hours changed that. There’s nothing wrong with the truck. The Iveco is fantastic. The teamwork in the cab is really good too. I’ve made major steps forward each year I’ve competed, so the podium wasn’t an unachievable goal. But maybe it’s a year too early, and I’m still missing that bit of extra experience to make the next step to join the very top. We have to forget about our own place in the classification, but we can play an important role for our leading trucks. The objective now is to help Gerard de Rooy and Federico Villagra. We’ll just go back to doing what we did last year: make life hard for the Kamaz trucks and help Gerard win the race.”
Wuf van Ginkel – 25
“It was an eventful first week. Getting stuck in the mud twice was pretty bad. We lost a lot of time on day 5. Hopefully we can make up some ground in the next few days and try to get closer to Gerard and Federico. The strategy is clear now, with Gerard leading the race. To be able to play our part for the team, first we have to get in the game. That’s the first priority, but if we can score a decent result along the way, all the better. We’ll be carrying some extra stuff for the marathon stage, but hopefully we won’t need too much of it. The fact that it keeps raining makes life hard. You can’t see how deep the puddles and pools are, and all that water makes the surface really greasy. It feels like you’re driving on ice. So we’ll have to factor in a safety margin, because we can’t afford any more major problems.”
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