Second South African to retire in two days

Disaster struck for Vicus van Deventer, South Africa's hope in the quad class of the 25th Dakar race was forced to retire and did not start the stage this morning.

After an unfortunate incident in Europe and a change in the logistics of the DHL Bombardier racer's plans, Vicus van Deventer did not have the spare parts available to repair his quad and continue today.

Vicus van Deventer tests his Bombardier race machine.
Photo by Bombardier.

"I am really disappointed. Originally I started the race with a great engine and I had a spare engine, which was loaded on one of the other team's trucks, but they ran out of space and I had to remove it from their truck. We then arranged that it would be flown to me for replacement on the rest day, because we could not find another berth to carry it along," remarked a distraught Van Deventer at the bivouac this morning.

He continued: "Unfortunately my engine broke a second gear in Valencia in Spain and I was forced to buy a secondhand engine from a local client. The idea was to nurse that engine to the rest day, Monday (13 January 2003) where I would have replaced the engine with a spanking new DS 650 Baja single-cylinder, four-stroke Rotax engine from the factory in Canada. I suppose you need a good amount of luck running such risk and mine has just run out. The temporary replacement engine, which I have used since Spain was old and had worked hard in its life, I was told by the client, but I soldiered on, and now it just could not take the strain any longer and I lost second gear again, leaving me two stuffed second gears and no parts to repair it."

Having won two Dakars thus far, Van Deventer was crawling closer and threatening the lead of Josef Machacek of Czechoslovakia. "If I had three more days with such intense testing of man and machine, I would have taken the overall lead. Now I am a television racer in the 2003 Dakar," said a very despondent Van Deventer.

"Next year I'll be back, definitely on a Bombardier -- there is nothing better to race in these terrible conditions, I was really just unfortunate, there are still four Bombardiers left in the race" he concluded.

Out of 14 starters in the Quad Class, only 7 appear on the overall standings after today's stage 9, whilst 4 of the original 6 Bombardiers are still running flat out.