On paper it was the last chance for Gerard de Rooy to change something in the top 3 of the Dakar Rally truck ranking. The leader of Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco therefore in stage 9 opened the attack on both Kamaz drivers in first and second. Due to cooling problems De Rooy had to give up his attack in the final stages of the race. “If something goes wrong, nothing goes to plan anymore”, he said after the 312 km in the Pisco area. “Very frustrating.”
De Rooy had to make a choice: stop to repair the belt of the cooling system or move on in a much slower pace. “The engine became very hot and that must first cool down, so repairing would certainly have taken a very long hour.” At the finish, it turned out to be the right decision: De Rooy came within 31 minutes behind Kamaz driver Eduard Nikolaev , who took over the lead in the standings again from his teammate Dmitry Sotnikov, who also lost almost half an hour. “No one has come through this stage unharmed”, concluded De Rooy.
Not even within Team De Rooy. Federico Villagra went on his side in a canyon. He was put back up by De Rooy, but lost 1 hour and 41 minutes. Ton van Genugten encountered gearbox problems, which took at least four hours. Maurik van den Heuvel came in at almost 53 minutes and came in sixth, behind De Rooy who was fifth. He had no technical problems, but lost time searching for a waypoint and suffered a lot from the dust from trucks that had started earlier. The late start was a result of the tumble of yesterday in the dunes.
If the times in the overall standings at the end of stage 9 finally are correct, De Rooy’s backlog at Nikolaev is more than one and a half hour and almost an hour at Sotnikov. The chance that De Rooy can do something in the last stage of 113 km is theoretical. “It’s a round around the church, but you never know it in the Dakar. Everyone can get something at any time”, he knows from experience. “Kamaz also lost an hour yesterday and they have only two trucks left in the game. It is a particular Dakar. Tough, as it should be. But for a top result everything has to fall in place. You can have a breakdown once, but not two days in a row and certainly not for an entire week.”
Maurik van den Heuvel agrees with his team captain. “We all had problems too often. An exhaust broke, a steering wheel broke, engine problems, turbo problems. If we had not had it all… But ‘if’ does not count, I know that too well. They make a Dakar to destroy everything: people, trucks, service teams. That works pretty well. See how little there are left in the race. At our place it also starts to look like a scrapyard instead of a top team.”
With the current state of affairs, Van den Heuvel does finish in the top 10. Ton van Genugten has not yet finished in stage 9, but will end up somewhere around number 7 (provisionally). Federico Villagra is fourth, but Ales Loprais is only fifteen minutes behind. The third place of De Rooy is unthreatened. He can afford to lose four hours on his Argentine teammate in the final stage to Lima.