In the dunes of the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally, Gerard de Rooy has given a knock to the competition. With great superiority, the captain of Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco won the stage. He gained 34 minutes on standings leader Eduard Nikolaev. Iveco team mate Federico Villagra was the third truck at the finish, 43 minutes behind De Rooy.
Halfway through the stage, there appeared to be a stunt in the making, when the four Iveco’s came through the intermediate sections as 1, 2, 3 and 4, with Ton van Genugten as the fastest of the quartet. Maurik van den Heuvel also held the fastest interval for a while. However, that was before entering the toughest dune section of the day, where De Rooy emerged as the undisputed strongest.
De Rooy entered the dunes together with teammate Federico Villagra, with both Kamaz trucks (Eduard Nikolaev and Dmitry Sotnikov) a few minutes behind the two Iveco’s. Halfway through the dunes De Rooy and Villagra lost sight of each other. The Argentinian later came side by side with Nikolaev through the next measuring point. Sotnikov, the number 2 in the rankings, saw his margin at De Rooy then shrink from 1 hour 40 to virtually twelve minutes.
“They were difficult dunes where you could lose a lot,” De Rooy said immediately after the finish of the 331 km long special stage, for which he needed 4 hours, 47 minutes and 27 seconds. “We were lucky ourselves. Once we were almost stuck. Had I been one second later, we would have had to dig. Shortly before that, we almost tumbled over.”
That was the signal for De Rooy to lower the pace. “A little. We drove fast, but did not risk too much. I pushed in the last part, when we were out of the dunes. It would be stupid to lose time there.”