Jan 15, 2019
In a nerve-racking eighth stage, Gerard de Rooy narrowed his gap in the Dakar Rally standings. Eduard Nikolaev lost control because he was stuck in the dunes for almost an hour. De Rooy, however, also got stuck for fifteen minutes and suffered from a crooked front wheel in the final phase, so Nikolaev could limit the damage to 40 minutes and 54 seconds. The big winner, however, was Kamaz driver Dmitry Sotnikov. He took full advantage, won the stage and took the lead in the standings with 26.49 on Nikolaev and 1.07.43 from De Rooy.
The top 5 trucks started between the fastest ten bikes and ten fastest cars of the seventh stage. Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco had three men in that top 5, so De Rooy was supported by Federico Villagra and Maurik van den Heuvel. Nikolaev on the other hand was on his own, because teammate Dmitry Sotnikov, second in the rankings, started in the second group. The fifth truck in the leading group was the Maz from Siarhei Viazovich.
Already at about 150 km in the 360 km long stage it became utterly exciting, when Nikolaev got stuck, and Maurik van den Heuvel went sideways, while it would take at least two hours for them to get help. Nikolaev could get out on his own, losing 55 minutes, but De Rooy had to miss one of his helpers.
The Dutchman lost fifteen minutes when he got stuck himself in the second serious dune section. “It took a long time before the next truck arrived, so I knew I had been fast,” says De Rooy. “We had almost got the truck out when the Maz arrived. He gave me the last pull.” De Rooy took the blame for getting stuck. “Own stupid mistake. For a dune stage I always take a pill against motion sickness, but I had forgotten it, so I was a bit sick.”
Despite the fifteen minutes of digging, De Rooy had built up a margin of more than an hour on Nikolaev. De Rooy stayed on the tail of the Maz in the second part of the stage. “In the dust of Viazovich we made a slap in a ditch, and damaged the front wheel. In the last fast sector, I therefore lost time.” Nikolaev took almost twenty minutes out of the gap by pushing hard to the finish. He crossed the line losing 36 minutes to Viazovich and 34 minutes to De Rooy.
In the meantime Sotnikov and Van Genugten were also on their way. The Russian clearly had noticed that he started the stage as a virtual leader of the rankings and took no risks.
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