With three Iveco’s versus one Kamaz and a Maz, Gerard de Rooy holds favourable cards for the eighth stage of the Dakar Rally. In this so-called Super Ica the top 10 of the bikes, the top 10 of the cars and the top 5 of the trucks of the seventh stage start together ahead of the rest. Thanks to the fourth place of Federico Villagra and the fifth place of Maurik van den Heuvel, stage winner Gerard de Rooy is supported by a strong team.
There is quite a bit at stake in the eighth stage, which is announced as the highlight of the Dakar 2019. Late last night De Rooy was told that he was not the winner of the sixth stage, but that that victory was for Kamaz rider Dmitry Sotnikov with a 21 minute difference. The race management had forgotten to include that adjustment in the results, so that after the victory of De Rooy in the seventh stage the rankings looked kind of strange. Now that all results from stage 6 are processed, that means that De Rooy is less favourable than it would appear. The difference with Sotnikov is not 15 minutes, but almost 45 minutes. De Rooy has 1.15.28 to make up on classification leader Eduard Nikolaev.
It could be possible in the Super Ica, especially now that Nikolaev stands alone – and may only hope that Belarusian Siarhei Viazovich is willing to assist when necessary – and De Rooy has two helpers with him.
This privilege he owes to Maurik van den Heuvel, who rode an excellent seventh stage. “Everything was great,” Van den Heuvel said. “The car was top, the engine was great, in the cabin everything was top notch. I have never experienced such a tough stage, but it went very well. Once we drove into a wrong valley and we had a flat tire, but no others troubles. It is so nice to drive when there is confidence in the technique again.”
That is, since the engine failure that Van den Heuvel had to deal with, and as a result of which he could only drive at half power, has been remedied. “The sensor on the manifold must have a certain length and with the type in my car that is slightly different: it had to be two millimetres shorter.”
For Van den Heuvel it is the first time he starts in the Super Ica breakaway. “It is quite exciting. I do not know what to expect yet. It is important that we are three of us. The team’s interests are paramount.”
Ton van Genugten had a lesser day. He finished seventh and was short on Sotnikov for three seconds to start ahead of the Russian. Van Genugten also had problems with the valley. “I did not come up. After five attempts, we drove around it.” In the dunes, a slow puncture occurred and mechanic Bernard der Kinderen decided that it would be wiser to change the tire. After that, the tire inflation system refused service, so that Van Genugten drove the rest of the stage with a tire pressure of 1 bar. “On the fast parts we could therefore have a maximum of 90 instead of 120 because otherwise I would rip the tires.”
Van Genugten thus begins a lot later in the Super Ica than the other three Iveco’s. After the breakaway of 25, first the rest of the motorbikes start and only then the cars and the trucks. That does not mean that Van Genugten could not win the stage, but to provide assistance to Gerard de Rooy or the other two Iveco’s he will be too far behind.