Jan 05, 2018
With the fifth fastest time, 35 minutes behind the Russian Vladimir Vasilyev, Gerard de Rooy crossed the finish line of the fourth stage of the Africa Eco Race. The difference with the Mini driver could have been smaller, De Rooy admitted. A navigation error cost the captain of Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco some 20 minutes.
“That was a bit of a shame, but we still managed to keep it up to speed today. We have been on 150 kms for at least 20 minutes. Especially in the last part it went very well.” In the first part of the 499 kilometres long stage from Assa to Fort Chacal, De Rooy had to stop three times to vomit. “Because we start from the bivouac in this rally, my breakfast does not have time to digest. I spoke about it with our doctor and from now on I have to get up a little earlier and have breakfast earlier, so that it has time to go down instead of making me sick.”
It did not make much of a difference for the standings. In the overall classification the gap to leader Vasilyev is 2.03.55. The difference with the top 3 is 1.20. “In this phase the stages are long but fast and the cars have the advantage, because they can drive 180, 190 in places where a truck is limited to 150. Next week in Mauretania there will be enough stages where that difference is completely gone and where I can make up for time. I certainly have not put the podium out of my mind. A lot can still happen.”
De Rooy had already decided to take it relatively easy before the start of the stage, in order to avoid inconvenience such as damage and punctures. After all, he did not have any service around in case of emergency, because the assistance crews had already left for Fort Chacal last night to repair the truck of Wuf van Ginkel in daylight.
Arriving at the bivouac, De Rooy saw to his satisfaction that the mechanics had advanced. “They started at 9 o’clock this morning and pulled everything apart to be checked. Some small things have appeared, but nothing really worrying. They have now adjusted the shock absorbers, so that the truck gets fewer hits. From what I can see at this moment, it looks as if Wuf can compete again tomorrow.”
The fifth stage, from Fort Chacal to Dakhla, is 631 kilometres long, with a special of 436 kilometres with sand and fast trails. “Tough for the material and the navigator, but a joy to drive”, according to the description of the organization. In Dakhla is the rest day of the Africa Eco Race, Sunday.
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