Dakar: De Rooy final report

Gerard de Rooy on the stand; He deserves every bit of his 3rd place! "The entire team achieved something; next year will be my year!!!" The last day of Le Dakar's 26th edition was unforgettable. Tens of thousands Senegalese went to Dakar's ...

Gerard de Rooy on the stand; He deserves every bit of his 3rd place!
"The entire team achieved something; next year will be my year!!!"

The last day of Le Dakar's 26th edition was unforgettable. Tens of thousands Senegalese went to Dakar's beach to welcome the colourful parade of what was left of the world's biggest rally. A welcome they deserved after all hardships they suffered. 163 of the competitors that started in France reached the finish.

The enthusiastic crowd cheered and waved with anything you can think of. Above all they were cheerful because the rally was back in Dakar; last year's finish was at the Egyptian Sharm el' Sheik.

The majority of the horde of adventurers that reached Senegal's Capital City yesterday, looked alive and kicking thanks to a real bed and a fresh shower.

This was not the case for the technical fireworks that were shown in the "Grande Halle d'Auvergne" hardly three weeks ago. Most of the vehicles looked ready for the scrap heap, although the owners are not only in for an adventure, but also are splendid DIY-enthusiasts otherwise it's of no use to compete, certainly not for the amateurs. Some vehicles were tied together by ropes en finished heaving and groaning. The pilots didn't care. They reached Dakar; it was no longer a dream.

Gerard de Rooy, grown into a man with status during the last two years due to his excellent driving skills and splendid performance, is thrilled to bits about it. Leaning against his truck near the Meridien Hotel, he tells his story: "We reached our target; so now and than it was quite frightening especially when we had trouble with the truck. And of course the 13th stage on 14th January. I'm awfully superstitious and you know what happened last year. The last few days were great; the tracks were made for us. You can imagine we enjoyed the arrival in Dakar, this was our target but our team proved that this also meant a place on the stand. I told you yesterday already; the entire team achieved something. Not only during the rally but also before. We've worked for this and we made it. That makes me very happy and I know I speak on behalf of the entire team," said the 23 years old Dutchman, who was also team captain after his father dropped out, with great emotion.

When we ask him whether he is happy with his 3rd place, de Rooy says: "I'm glad we reached the stand without doing silly things. Everyone can experience bad luck, this year it happened to de Azevedo, last year it happened to me. That's why we took the 3rd place," laughs de Rooy while looking at Tom Colsoul who in the meantime has coloured his hair. "The most important thing was having fun, and believe me, we did. The fun was this year more important for me than the performance. We wanted to reach Dakar, next year it will be my year." On the stand, during the official honouring, the air horn get stuck, therefore now also everybody in Dakar, with a incredible noise, know who is Gerard de Rooy!

The last stage, a show with the characteristics of a parade, was in the truck league a prey for those that couldn't gain victory during the rally. Hans Stacey lived up to his name as known rally rider and gained his first victory. He needed 37 seconds less than Hans Bekx, who had the best rally of his career. De Azevedo finished 3rd at 1.18 minute. Loprais took the 7th place and Gerard de Rooy only finished 8th, due to a broken suspension packet there was no chance of a higher placing. He finished at 2.33 minutes from nephew Hans. "I was not the mood for racing. There was so much to look at and we wanted to enjoy all those enthusiastic spectators." GINAF-pilot Wuf van Ginkel also made it, he finished 11th. Kabirov, Tchaguine and Mardeev also enjoyed it; the three of them crossed the finish at a distance of Stacey.

So after 17 days Tchaguine was at the top of the stand in the Meridien Hotel. Kabirov and Gerard de Rooy just 1 step lower, being the numbers 2 and 3. At the end Kabirov lost 53.28 minutes to his boss Tchaguine, Gerard was 1.28.28 hours behind the leader, including his time penalty. Mardeev, the 3rd Kamaz pilot, took the 4th place, being 6.50.20 hours at the winner. Sugawara was 5th, de Azevedo and Loprais 6th and 7th. Hans Bekx took the 8th place at 10.22.52 hours. Stacey completed the DAF-party by taking the 9th place at 12.08.28 hours. Three DAF's within the first 10 is an unprecedented luxury, which never happened before. Jan de Rooy watched the honouring, on one hand very happy because of the terrific performance of his son, on the other hand very disappointed because of his drop off. "Next year I'm in again, trouble with an engine is not acceptable for me. If I make mistakes, I'm the first one to admit. Now it was a matter of force majeure." So we'll see Jan back next year but probably all of the Dutch competitors, even Wuf van Ginkel qualified after suffering a lot of trouble during the last few days; he took the 36th place.

Cyril Despres won the last special in the motorbike league; he was ahead of Scandinavia's Ullevalseter and G.P. Lundmark. Meoni took the 4th place, Cox was 9th and the 2 most important pilots Roma and Sainct finished 17th and 47th, as they already hauled in the loot.

KTM was again superior in the overall standing. The first 6 places were for KTM pilots. Roma took his first final victory. Sainct, last year's winner, took the 2nd place. Despres, Cox, Ullevalseter and Meoni were 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. David Fretigne, Yamaha's surprise, took the 7th place and was the best non-KTM rider. Two Dutchmen reached Dakar; van Pelt was best at the 35th place and Brouwer took a splendid 39th place.

Also in the car league the "outsiders" left their marks in this last stage. Newcomer McRae finished first, ahead of Servia, Al Attiyen, Alphand, De Villiers and Schlesser. Mitsubishi-stars Masuoka and Peterhansel took the 12th and the 19th place.

Last-mentioned was the appropriate winner of the overall standing, ahead of teammate Masuoka. Last year's winner needed 49.24 minutes more for the track of almost 11.092 kilometres. Schlesser finished 3rd at 3.00.33 minutes. Alphand took the 4th place. The 7th and 8th place were for De Villiers and De Mevius, who lost a lot of time during the last few days.

That's it then, for the rest only parties and festivities at the sunny city of Dakar. Modest for the amateurs who did it again, large-scale for the commercial teams who did what their bosses asked for.

The team Gauloises de Rooy is in fact neither one of them but the party won't be less tonight!

-dr-

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Series DAKAR