Truck class leader Gerard de Rooy says he was surprised to win Monday's eighth stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally by so much.
The IVECO driver dominated Stage 8, finishing more than two and a half minutes ahead of Eduard Nikolaev’s Kamaz. And with former leader Peter Versluis having a shocker of a day, de Rooy now holds an overall lead of nearly eight minutes.
“At the end, 2m35s… I thought the gap was much closer,” de Rooy said.
“I’m very happy, and the gap with the others – third, fourth, and fifth - is incredible for a small stage like this. It's a tough one.”
De Rooy added that road position helped him out today.
“I'm really happy. I was sure the Kamaz crew was really going to push today, and they did,” he said.
“In the first special stage I started behind a car, but I was lucky didn't have a lot of dust in front. I could pass the car and then Versilius got a puncture, so we passed him no problem.
“And I could close the gap to the 2 Kamazes that started in front without any dust.
”Tomorrow we have to do a good job again. But I've no idea about the strategy; it depends on the stage, if it's quick one. But we'll see tomorrow.
“Today, anyway, we did a good job and Kamaz was very disappointed because they was pushing. I'm sure tomorrow they'll get nervous.”
Interview by Elisabetta Caracciolo