Final story Team Gauloises de Rooy, DAKAR 2005
"I drove a flat rally. If I wouldn't have met the problems with the springs I would have made it to the stand"
January 21, 2005 -- The small, often warm cabin made way for the spacious office in de Rooy's new premises. The blue coloured Gauloises shirts are either put in the wash or given away to the souvenir hunters. Nothing reminds of the adventure that ended only 5 days ago in Dakar, besides some press cuttings and a few magazines containing articles of the DAKAR rally. The order of the day is the same as; let's say before X-mas with a lot of activity. Jan and Gerard de Rooy talk about transport, transport solutions and mileage rates. The holiday is over . . .
Just one more talk over.
"During the flight back home we've put things on paper for next year. What went wrong, things to be improved and how the Team performed," Gerard starts the talk. Father Jan completes: "we learned from our mistakes. I threw away my place on the stand because the springs weren't good. The supplier told me that I had to give up 2 centimetres and that this wouldn't cause any problem. The opposite was true. Especially on the day that Gerard ran out of fuel which cost him about 7 hours, I lost six and a half hours. For the rest I drove a flat rally. If I wouldn't have met the problems with the springs I would have made it to the stand," states the entrepreneur from Son, quite level-headed.
"O.k., now it's my turn," De Rooy junior joins the talk again. "My truck toppled over in the first part of the rally. Everyone thinks that I lost the battle at that moment. Of course you are a bit down at that moment but I didn't loose anything at that time. Look who have crashed: Vatanen, McRae, Masuoka, Shinozuka, Gordon and Servia even twice. And these are only the well-known names. But it takes more time to put a truck back on its wheels than a car. There's a lot more weight involved. I lost three and a half hours, but I did make it up. The place on the stand evaporated into thin air when we ran out of fuel. I wasn't the only one but this little affair took me seven hours. On top of everything, this happened on the same day that my father suffered the problems with the springs. Otherwise he would have reached me much sooner and I would have had fuel much earlier. That day we feel from the stand," says a very serious Gerard de Rooy.
The rally was absolutely full on incidents due to the muddleheaded and sometimes shadowy policies of the organization. For a lot of competitors a reason to express their dissatisfaction. As well the pro's as the amateurs had lots of complaints about the vagueness in the organization of the rally, having its pinnacle during the stage from Zouérat to Tichit where, obviously, the organization declared that the competitors didn't take enough fuel with them which was necessary because of the soft, heavy sand. By saying thing the organization lost its last bit of goodwill.
Also the neutralization of the stage to Tidjikja fell on stony ground with a lot of competitors. "It's often said that the organization needs their helicopters to pick up the stragglers in the desert. Of course that's utter nonsense. That's why they have sag wagons," knows Jan de Rooy, who's always peed off when he has to give up one day of "his holiday".
"At the end you only remember the good things. I had about 100 bad moments, but I only remember a few of them," Junior ruminates: "from day 12 onwards we were doing fine and we've made up a lot." Father de Rooy adds: "and don't forget that the top-4 was only watching each other and drove quite defensive. The competition was contended."
Nevertheless, the Team Gauloises de Rooy took its good overall standings during the last stages in green Africa, the area that Jan de Rooy feared most. "The last 3 days before the Lac Rose were tough. It was very narrow with a lot of trees and branches. Shortly: a lot of problems. It was difficult but as we were fast on the first day, we could start in the front and that makes a difference."
Did both pilots ever doubt the good outcome of the Rally?
"I've never thought that we wouldn't make it; Gerard doubted only once when his truck toppled over. I said right away: "go on, there's nothing that can't be repaired"," Jan de Rooy ends up the talk. "By the way, if the springs don't leave us in the lurch next year and we have no problems with the shock absorbers, than we'll definitely go for the stand!"
Gerard has the final word: "My dad is right, as I do want to hold up that cup next year. . . . "
And so the preparations for DAKAR 2006 have started . . . . .