Moving past the disappointment
Kees Koolen has moved past the disappointment, Jurgen van den Goorbergh not yet. Saturday night the GoKoBra men found their Waterloo in the dunes near Arica, northern Chili. Monday afternoon they arrived in the bivouac in Copiapo, no longer competitors, their starting numbers on the buggies crossed through.
Saturday night it seemed Koolen had reached the bivouac just in time to get a starting time for Sunday's stage. When he was called to a jury meeting he thought it was because his arrival time had been three minutes after the 6 pm curfew. `Then the gentlemen of the jury told me they had called me in because during the fifth stage, Thursday, we had driven a big part of the route over the road. I have tried to explain the situation, especially because the officials in Paris told us to use the roads. They would not change their minds.'
Koolen managed to move past the disappointment fairly quickly. `I have the capability to close this and move on fairly quickly. In daily life disappointments are a part of my business life; I know how to handle them. Rules are rules, it is the matter of fact and I can not do anything than to move on.'
Koolen is `pleased' his disqualification was after 26 hours of hard work in the desert. `A valuable experience. We have learned a lot there. About the buggy, but also about ourselves. It has given us valuable feedback that will help us in the future.'
Van den Goorbergh is also pleased he started Saturday. `It was really tough. It were three tough days, nonstop on the road and busy. During the special stage if Friday I already felt it was going to be really tough and that it was going to be hard getting to the finish. I guess that helps accepting the situation when you do realize it is over. It is just a real bummer that happened 5 kilometers before the finish. A fact still hard to accept.'
His first reaction was `I am going home as quickly as I can'. But now the anger and disappointment has settled and both Koolen and Van den Goorbergh now will follow the rally in their tracks. `The kilometers over the road are valuable too. Besides that, it is still a good thing being here and we make sure we see and hear what is going on.'
Van den Goorbergh felt for Koolen, who according to Jurgen deserved the benefit of the doubt. He tried everything he could, up to the highest level could not get through Dakar director Etienne Lavigne. `I was really angry but also very tired and afraid I would do something stupid. That's when I decided it had to be what it was. We want to be welcome here next year again. This project deserves that, a project e both still strongly believe in.'
One of the conclusions is that more testing is needed. Next year Koolen and Van den Goorbergh want to do at least two test rally's to be better prepared at the start.
The buggy itself was not the issue, states Van den Goorbergh. `Of course some weaker points showed up but the buggy itself, the basics of it, is good. The car is strong and quick enough to get to the finish and to set a result. The smaller things were the issue, we have analyzed them and will work on them.'