Jan 06, 2020
The second stage of the Dakar 2020 was not the best day for Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco. Two punctures caused Janus van Kasteren a loss of forty minutes. Vick Versteijnen lost an hour and a half due to a hole in the gearbox, and so did Michiel Becx. They came at a delay of 2 hours and 29 minutes at the finish after 367 km. Albert Llovera was Team De Rooy’s top finisher in 11th.
Van Kasteren was disappointed. He started in third and was able to speed up and catch up on the Kamaz in front of him. Until a flat rear tire forced him to a halt. The ten minutes it took to change the tire caused him to ride in the dust. “Dust, dust, dust all day long. Then you can’t do anything anymore, because you only drive at 60 percent.”
The search for a waypoint and a second puncture, 8 kilometers before the finish, made the bad day for Van Kasteren complete. “No idea why we broke those tires. Maybe a rock, I don’t know. They were both suddenly broken.” In the classification, Van Kasteren dropped to eighth place at 42 minutes from classification leader Siarhei Viazovich. Llovera is eleventh in the ranking.
The Andorran had a great day and, just like in the first leg, drove wisely. Because of his handicap, he cannot leave the truck to help if a tire or something else breaks down, so keeping things intact is of great importance. “It was a special day,” said Llovera upon arrival at the Neom bivouac. “Ferran, my navigator, had a super day. We found all the waypoints quickly. The only delay – 15 to 20 minutes – came from a problem with the steering wheel. That could be remedied quickly.”
Llovera pushed where possible, but drove extremely carefully through the pieces strewn with stones. “You have a flat tire easily and that takes more time than driving slowly. I think we did fine that way.”
Vick Versteijnen started very well and drove times that seemed to put him in the top 10. “We started as the 22nd truck, between cars and SSVs, and that gave a lot of dust. I wanted to pass them as quickly as possible and it worked very well. We could even overtake a few trucks. At the obligatory stop I saw Gerrit Zuurmond and a MAZ standing there and we had already set our sights on them when I saw oil pouring down from the car.”
Further investigation revealed that there was a hole in the gearbox, probably because of a stone. “I was shocked,” Versteijnen says. “Without oil in the gearbox it’s game over.” Michiel Becx, with mechanic Bernard der Kinderen on board, had started shortly after Versteijnen and was therefore not far behind. “Bernard had everything needed to help Vick,” says Becx. “With ductile aluminium, rubber pads and straps, we have sealed everything as good as possible.”
All in all, it took more than an hour and a half, but then the Iveco Powerstar was able to drive again, to the relief of Versteijnen. “We had to stop twice to top up the oil and the gearbox made a strange noise, but we managed to reach the finish. After two of these days we can forget about the general standings, but we know we can have some stage results. From 22 to 7 to 28: tomorrow will be another catch-up race in the dust. That’s a shame. But we know we can do it and we’re still driving; that is the most important.”
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