Van Kasteren’s sixth place best for Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco
Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco went for the podium in the Dakar Rally 2020, but that ambition turned out to be a bit too high for this edition. On Janus van Kasteren’s sixth place in the final ranking, however, the team is more than proud. “This is the maximum attainable at the moment, even though everyone wanted more,” said Van Kasteren himself at the finish of an extremely exciting rally.
For Van Kasteren it was the first time that he reached the finish line of the Dakar. In his other two entries he dropped out. It was also the first time in Saudi Arabia, the first time with the Iveco Powerstar and the first time with navigator Marcel Snijders and mechanic Darek Rodewald. “If you see what’s in front of us: three full-professional Kamaz teams, an MAZ factory team and Martin Macik with ten years of experience,” Van Kasteren summed up. “Everyone expects Team De Rooy to be in the top 3, but in this case the sixth place was the maximum possible. The differences are not that great either. Last year the number 4 (Federico Villagra) stood at 5 hours and 49 minutes. We become sixth at 4 hours and 26 minutes. I am very happy with that achievement.”
According to Van Kasteren, what was lacking was consistency, partly due to punctures, and that the rally in this first edition in Saudi Arabia might not have been tough enough. “Tougher would be an advantage for us. The Iveco is very strong and reliable. If the rally is more difficult, the chances are greater that trucks will drop out or run into problems, such as Ales Loprais who got stuck in a dune pan on the penultimate day. That earned us a place. One puncture is not a problem, it takes five minutes. But if you end up in the dust as a result, it takes twenty minutes. Then you have to start from tenth place the next day instead of fourth or fifth, and then you drive in the dust again. We drove very fast, that wasn’t the problem. It must become more consistent, that is obvious.”
Team boss Gerard de Rooy warmly congratulated Van Kasteren on the podium. De Rooy made some nuances to statements he made on local network Omroep Brabant. “In the perspective of previous years, the performance of the team seems to be disappointing. But the perspective is different this year, because we have drivers with less experience. They cannot be blamed for that. It is not our goal to change the team, but to improve their qualities and skills through more testing and training, further development of the rally trucks and, where necessary, improving the knowledge and skills of the entire team. Janus did a great job with his crew, and got the most out of it. Due to the bad luck and the eventual breakdown of Vick Versteijnen, Janus did not have the backup in the front that is needed to be able to fight for the podium. Despite a lot of bad luck, Vick has shown that he has the right Dakar spirit by achieving some excellent stage results. Michiel Becx and Albert Llovera have both fully met the expectations and agreements in their role of assistance. So there is no question of changing, but of improving and continuing to develop.”
Llovera finished in 15th place in the final ranking, Michiel Becx in 16th. For Becx it was the first Dakar with a truck. In his role of rapid assistance, he certainly had to stop a number of times in the first week to provide assistance to Vick Versteijnen in particular, who fell out of the competition due to bad luck. “We didn’t have any problems ourselves,” said Becx. “Two punctures and one small roll in the dunes, without consequences. I am happy and proud that we have reached the finish, also thanks to perfect navigation by Edwin Kuijpers and the peace and experience of mechanic Bernard der Kinderen. I have dreamed of this medal all my life.”