Dakar: De Rooy stage 7 report

Engine trouble means the end of the rally for Jan de Rooy. Gerard de Rooy could hardly keep up with unleashed Tchaguine. Jan de Rooy couldn't add lustre to his tenth DAKAR rally. After fighting back during the last two days and even after...

Engine trouble means the end of the rally for Jan de Rooy.

Gerard de Rooy could hardly keep up with unleashed Tchaguine.

Jan de Rooy couldn't add lustre to his tenth DAKAR rally. After fighting back during the last two days and even after being first a checkpoint 2 today, fate hit hard. A broken cylinder head gasket, which couldn't be repaired, meant a premature end of the rally: "Pure tough luck, it can't be helped. My nephew Hans Stacey was just driving behind me. We tried with combined forces to fix it but it was a hopeless task. The engine is a component that's sealed by the Organization, which means that you're not allowed to replace it and that means end of the story," said a very disappointed de Rooy who didn't know what his further plans will be for the next few days: "anyhow, the first thing is to take care that the trucks goes back to Son, because for the rest there's nothing wrong with it."

It wasn't only the longest stage today but also one of the fastest. About 317 remaining competitors started in the dead of the night. Not a surprising stage but a lot of dunes and the last part was very treacherous, certainly when you're tired. The crossing of the Ournghawaba Erg was no mean feat. It was the only way to reach Atar, a town founded in the 17th century.

The truck battle was extraordinary thrilling. Vladimir Tchaguine who wanted to play cat and mouse yesterday with Gerard de Rooy (who, by the way, rejected), complimented Gerard before the start of the mammoth stage: "Luck and experience may be the difference between me and de Rooy. My Team is very impressed by his driving skills. For such a young chap it's amazing."

Young de Rooy started at the 26th place, between the cars, just behind Tchaguine. These places chow how tough the battle is on the top of the truck league.

At checkpoint 2, after 214 kilometres, Jan de Rooy was fastest. He did the track in 1.50.47 hour and was 1.48 minute before the Brazilian de Azevedo, 2.17 minutes ahead of Tchaguine, 2.45 minutes before Kabirov and 2.55 minutes ahead of his son Gerard.

At checkpoint 3, after 476 kilometres, Tchaguine was back in command again. He passed with a 3.24 minutes advantage on Gerard de Rooy who increased his lead on de Azevedo by almost 8 minutes and took a 15 minutes lead on Kabirov.

After that Gerard suffered a flat tyre at the back and 1 kilometre later another one at the front: "I was in a heavy fight with Tchaguine and I could have won. At the end the flat tyres took me almost 45 minutes."

But at the same time fate hit the team Gauloises de Rooy. Jan already got stuck, suffering irreparable damage. Obviously Gerard wasn't aware of this.

At checkpoint 4, after 631 kilometres, Tchaguine increased his lead on his rivals. He passed over 17 minutes ahead of de Azevedo, who has passed Gerard de Rooy. The last one passed the checkpoint 6 minutes later.

Finally, Tchaguine finished 17.52 minutes ahead of de Azevedo and 24 minutes before Gerard de Rooy. Karel Loprais took the 4th place at 48.20 minutes. Kabirov also had bad luck, but he did finish 1.05.33 hour behind his teammate. Hans Bekx took the 6th place at 1.21.19 hour. Hans Stacey finished on a perfect 11th position at 3.32.10 hour.

"In the end, the damage isn't that bad; 24 minutes. Especially given the fact that I had problems with my tyre pressure during the last few kilometers," tells Gerard who walks away very emotional when he finds out about his father's dropout.

In the overall standing, Tchaguine is still on the lead, with a 30.14 minutes advantage on young de Rooy. De Azevedo takes the 3rd place at 40.21 minutes; Kabirov follows at 1.33.59 hour.

Last year's winner Richard Sainct showed his teeth at last. After passing checkpoint 2 he started with an impressive push. Luckily for him Esteve Pujol went a mucker and later on Pujol also suffered mechanical problems. When the smoke had cleared, Sainct was 7.07 minutes ahead of his country fellow Brucy, 8.33 minutes ahead of Despres and 9 minutes ahead of Alfi Cox. Roma followed at 12.19 minutes. The Australian Caldecott even lost 25.34 minutes. Meoni finished 34th at 1.52.56 hour. Best Dutchman today was Henk Vercoelen, he took the 22nd place. Verhoef finished 24th.

In the overall league Despres takes command from Pujol. Roma takes the 2nd place at 3.03 minutes and Sainct follows at 3.21 minutes. Italy's Meoni looks to be prospect less for the stage. He takes the 18th place being 1.46.18 hour behind Despres.

Eric Verhoef stays the best Dutchman at the 22nd place, 2.29.57 hours behind the leader.

In the car league, Mitsubishi seems to stand a good chance for the victory. Masuoka was fastest again after being passed by stable mate Peterhansel and Giniel de Villiers before checkpoint 2. At the end he finished 1st with a 5.02 minutes advantage on Peterhansel. Schlesser, who got stuck in the dunes after 624 kilometers, finished 3rd at 20.58 minutes. De Mevius took the 4th place at 21.26 minutes and McRae, who also suffered with problems in the dunes, finished 5th. The Dutch couple Leyds/Vaanholt was surprising; they took the 19th place.

Masuoka has command in the overall standing with an 11.42 minutes advantage on Peterhansel. McRae is 3rd at 41.29 minutes; de Mevius 4th at 43.59 minutes and Schlesser takes the 5th place at 48.04 minutes.

Tomorrow a stage of "only" 393 kilometers from Atar to Tidjikja, across a complete new track, never done before in Le Dakar.

To be continued . . . . .

-dr-

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Series DAKAR