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Gerard de Rooy able to live with third place

Gerard de Rooy is not exactly happy with his third place in the 2017 Dakar Rally, but he is not too deeply disappointed either. Of course he would rather have won. He came close to doing just that. One hard-to-find waypoint and a total of three flat tyres cost the Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco team leader victory. “The aim was at least a podium, and we achieved that. We had one bad day, and you can’t really blame anyone for that. I can live with third place.”

A single navigation error, heading off in the wrong direction and getting lost as a result, then taking just a little too much risk trying to make up time, and being punished with two punctures. That, in a nutshell, is the story of the tenth stage, which proved to be crucial for Gerard de Rooy at the finish of the Dakar Rally in Buenos Aires.

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‘We performed and worked exceptionally well as a team’

Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco competed for stage wins and had someone in the top 3 of the overall classification on every day of the race but one. As well Gerard de Rooy’s two stage victories, Federico Villagra and Ton van Genugten scored podium finishes in several stages. Two second and three third places saw the Argentinian driver of Team De Rooy finish in fourth place in the final race standings.

“Because so much was cancelled or shortened, we only had a short race, really,” was Villagra’s analysis. “We lost time searching for a waypoint in the fifth stage, in Bolivia. We dropped to sixth place there. That was a tough moment, but we recovered well, all through our own efforts. It’s a shame there wasn’t more time to attack the Kamazes together with Gerard. That feels a little unsatisfying, because having us both on the podium was absolutely possible.”

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Dust the only thing between Villagra and victory

Just 52 seconds separated Federico Villagra from victory in the eleventh stage of the Dakar Rally. The Argentinian driver of Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco had set his sights on this special stage, which he knows like the back of his hand, but an impenetrable cloud of dust thrown up by a much slower car thwarted his attack. Villagra was forced to settle for second place, 52 seconds behind the Russian Eduard Nikolaev.

The 300 kilometre race against the clock from San Juan to Rio Cuarto took place on Federico Villagra’s home ground. “I felt really good on these tracks,” the Argentinian said at the finish. “I’m always strong in this type of terrain, and I was confident I could win. It definitely wasn’t easy. The track had become very deeply rutted, with stones hidden at the side of the feshfesh all along the course.”
Villagra really let loose in the second part of the stage,

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Gap to leaders grows for De Rooy in tenth stage

The tenth stage of the 2017 Dakar wasn’t the Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco’s day. Gerard de Rooy lost 23 minutes and 43 seconds to the Russian Eduard Nikolaev, who took a firm hold of the championship and leads De Rooy, who is third, by 24 minutes. Two flat tyres and searching for a waypoint did for De Rooy’s chances in the stage.

It was plain before the start that navigation would be the decisive factor in the tenth stage, 406 kilometres against the clock from Chilecito to San Juan. One after another of the bikes and cars which started ahead of the trucks went astray. “We drove into a rio, and I immediately got the feeling we’d made a wrong turning,” Gerard de Rooy said. “Soon after, we saw a Mini heading our way with two more cars in his wake. We turned around and found the right turn quite quickly,

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Team De Rooy prepares for final challenge

With the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally cancelled due to mudslides and weather conditions, Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco are preparing for the final push. The “Queen Stage” from Salta to Chilecito was meant to be the decisive stage of the race. With that stage cancelled, there are two serious opportunities to launch an attack. “Those are going to be two very tough special stages,” expects Federico Villagra, who took an important second place in the eight stage, and moved up to fourth in the overall standings.

The Argentinian praised the decision of the Dakar organisation to cancel the stage. “There are huge problems in this part of Argentina due to mudslides and avalanches,” Villagra said. “It’s a disaster for the people who live here. Whole villages are under water. The Dakar organisation made the right decision, even though it is a shame for the race that the stage can’t go ahead.”

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Flat tyre costs De Rooy the lead in the race

A flat tyre has cost Gerard de Rooy the provisional lead in the 2017 Dakar Rally in the truck class. The tyre was damaged about three quarters of the way into the shortened 175 kilometre stage eight. De Rooy ended up with the ninth best time, 7 minutes 13 seconds behind stage winner Martin van den Brink. Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco driver Federico Villagra finished second, Ton van Genugten fifth, and Wuf van Ginkel eleventh.

Villagra and Van Genugten crossed the line to finish the stage close together, but without De Rooy, who was supposed to have been with them. Team strategy had been for Van Genugten to stay behind De Rooy. The Iveco Powerstar didn’t arrive until several minutes later. “A damaged tyre cost me at least eight minutes,” Gerard de Rooy said. “I sent Ton on ahead so that he could try to finish in the top five and start the Superspecial together with Federico.

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Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco finish 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 13th, De Rooy retains the lead

The rerouted seventh stage of the 2017 Dakar was just 141 kilometres long for the trucks, but there was still plenty to lose. Not for Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco, though. With Ton van Genugten finishing second, Federico Villagra finishing third and Gerard de Rooy crossing the line in fourth, the team has a rock solid foundation to start the eight stage from. Wuf van Ginkel also drove his Iveco Trakker to an impressive thirteenth place (starting from 35th), which will allow him to keep close behind the team leaders in the second part of the marathon stage tomorrow.

“It was a short stage, but a tough one,” Gerard de Rooy said after the finish. “There were a lot of tracks, which made navigation tricky. We were probably only off by about 50 metres. The dunes were very steep in the beginning, you could easily get yourself stuck in them,

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De Rooy leads the Dakar heading into week two

Gerard de Rooy enters the second week of the 2017 Dakar Rally firmly in the lead. The defending champion stamped his authority on the first week of the race with two stage victories. Finding himself leading the race doesn’t put any extra pressure on the Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco leader. Quite the opposite: De Rooy is revelling in his position.

The first week of the 2017 Dakar was an eventful one for Team De Rooy. Losing half an hour in the third stage was a disappointment for Gerard de Rooy, but De Rooy immediately hit back with two convincing stage victories. Federico Villagra, also driving an Iveco Powerstar, was the team’s best classified truck for a few days, but dropped back to sixth place in the difficult fifth stage.

Further behind the leaders, Ton van Genugten and Wuf van Ginkel both ran into trouble.

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Van Genugten trapped in the mud for three hours

Ton van Genugten has seen plenty of mud and dirt in his time in rally racing. But the Bolivian mud in stage 5 of the 2017 Dakar was too much even for him. Van Genugten’s Team De Rooy Iveco got trapped in the constricting mud early on in the stage. Teammate Wuf van Ginkel, who came to his aid, also suffered the same fate, and even a 6×6 drive fast service truck couldn’t pull them out.

The rain had transformed the course into a slimy, slippery mud bath. “We were the sixth or seventh truck, and I thought it would be better to try to open a new track, as the existing track was already deeply rutted,” Van Genugten explained from the bivouac in Oruro, which was also completely under water. “But the mud was so soft there that it just sucked the truck in and trapped it.

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Gerard de Rooy takes stage win and lead in the race

Just two days ago, defending his title looked like an impossible challenge for Gerard de Rooy. But the Iveco man from Son, near Eindhoven, clawed back 20 minutes on his rivals the 4th stage, then handed them an even bigger drubbing today. In the shortened fifth stage from Tupiza to Oruro in Bolivia, De Rooy claimed victory in the stage (his 32nd) as well as the lead in the general classification.

Bad weather in the high mountains of Bolivia forced the Dakar organisation to drastically shorten the stage. A sensible decision, as it turned out, as the remaining 219 kilometres proved once again to be incident packed from start to finish. “It was a really tough stage, with dangerously slippery river beds, dunes, and extremely difficult navigation,” Gerard de Rooy reported.

“The first 60 kilometres went through the mountains. Very tricky, with a lot of small ravines.