Jan 15, 2020
Team De Rooy in safe mode
Keeping everything intact and not losing too much time in direct competition was the task for Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco in the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally 2020. All four crews succeeded. Janus van Kasteren noted the tenth time at the finish of the 410 km long stage, Albert Llovera the fifteenth, Michiel Becx the seventeenth and Vick Versteijnen the nineteenth.
The ninth stage, from Wasi Al-Dawasir to Haradh, was a demolition stage. Especially the first part until the neutralization at km 155. “A goat path full of stones, steps and other nasty stuff,” Michiel Becx described it. For Janus van Kasteren it was like “riding a train in the dust” on that stretch. “Those with the least dust could drive on, the rest couldn’t. Catching up was almost impossible because we went through river beds. We took it a bit slow to avoid risks, because you can only break things in that dust.”
The second part was easier, but there was not much to gain here either: long straight sections where the trucks drove up to the maximum of 140 km, interspersed with small, sloping dunes through which the trucks could run at speed. It was clear from the timing sheets that the differences here hardly varied. Still, Van Kasteren managed to grab time here on close rival Martin Macik, who had a broken tire. “Then I just pushed a little harder,” smiled Van Kasteren. “But there was nothing else to be gained today. It was survival and trying not to break things. That is why I am quite satisfied that we have been able to maintain seventh place in the rankings and even have improved a bit. That we finish 13 minutes behind the top is not a problem, as long as we win on the rest.”
Vick Versteijnen drove very consciously. He started after the big problems of yesterday, all the way at the back and therefore drove full in the dust. A broken shock absorber took some time, but the fast second part was his rescue. “If the car doesn’t jump too much, you can drive on. The differences were not big. I’m glad we’re in before dark.”
For Michiel Becx, the fast second part was a bit more difficult. The suspension of Trakker is too soft for those long straight sections and therefore the truck tends to swab. “It’s difficult to play with the settings now. That actually doesn’t work. So we stay off and I get a little bit of gas. We’ll get to the finish anyway.”
For tomorrow – the marathon stage – there are again dunes on the program. Just tomorrow it is important for Becx to drive at his best and stay safe, as he will then be the only authorized assistance for Team De Rooy. “We take no more than usual, only sleeping bags. And those dunes, well. We will have to go through it anyway. Or as my mechanic Bernard der Kinderen says: We can’t wait until they are blown away.” Vick Versteijnen also brings some extra parts. After all, he is already out of the competition and can therefore offer the team extra support in the marathon stage.
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