Jan 03, 2020
The four Iveco race trucks from Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco and the assistance trucks and cars went smoothly through scrutineering for the Dakar Rally 2020. Janus van Kasteren, Vick Versteijnen, Michiel Becx and Albert Llovera had left the inspection area in no time at all in Jeddah, where the show start is on Saturday and the rally really starts on Sunday.
This time Gerard de Rooy looked at it from the sideline. The double winner of the Dakar and his navigator Moi Torrallardona are in Saudi Arabia to coach the crews, but will not compete themselves. “I have no trouble taking a different look at the rally from the side,” said De Rooy. “It’s just a shame that I miss the first time in Saudi Arabia. I would have liked to have driven here, in a new country. But from this position I can be very useful. We have already coached and talked a lot in the preparation. That will gradually become more and more important as the rally progresses.”
De Rooy’s mechanic Darek Rodewald rides with Janus van Kasteren and has an important role to play on board the Iveco Powerstar. “Darek knows the truck like no other and has a lot of experience,” noted Van Kasteren, who with start number 505 is the leader of Team De Rooy. “I don’t have to ask about the tire pressure or to turn a button. He already arranged that before I think about it. He has twelve Dakars to his name and has won twice. I have never even reached the finish yet… That should happen now, but I’m not satisfied with finishing alone. I am frontman for a reason.”
Like his teammates, Van Kasteren seized the opportunity to do a shakedown with the Iveco for an hour. “It is only a short ride, but it makes a lot of difference to get the feeling back,” said Van Kasteren. “I have a good navigator with Marcel Snijders, but we haven’t worked together yet. We’ll have to get used to each other in the first days. I’m glad it’s going to start. First that we could leave home, now that we have passed the inspection. Let it be Sunday soon.”
Vick Versteijnen thought the same way. He too was happy with the short shakedown. “That helps to get into the rhythm. During the test in Morocco we tried and changed many small things. It is good to have tried these new things in practice. I have a new steering wheel, a new seat, a new suit. You want to be sure everything works and suits before the actual start.”
With start number 522, Versteijnen starts relatively far behind. He hopes to change that in the first days of the rally. “Let’s hope that there is not too much dust, so that we can catch up a bit. In the shakedown I got the impression that we should be able to do that: we closed in on a Kamaz and on Janus. But of course I don’t know if they showed the back of the tongue. We’re going to see it from Sunday on.”
It is Michiel Becx’ job to support and keep the leaders Versteijnen and Van Kasteren out of trouble. With the Iveco Trakker, he has around 1000 kilos extra in spare parts for the three Powerstars. “Staying close to them and safely getting to the bivouac every night are the most important tasks,” says Becx. “It will take some getting used to the first few days, because I have little experience with the truck. Fortunately, Team De Rooy is so well-prepared and organized that I hardly have to worry about anything. Last year, when we went by car, everything was in turmoil for months. Now I only had to worry about what the helmets look like, so if the question is whether we are ready, the answer is yes.”
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