Kees Koolen dit not know wether het should laugh or cry so he did bot at the same time. Happy having reached the bivouac, but angry that he had to leave his buddy Jurgen van den Goorbergh in the dessert. Five kilometers before reaching the end of the special the GoKoBra buggy of Van den Goorbergh came to a halt. He had driven the whole day without brakes, dealt with several broken ball joints and a broken dynamo. The dynamo gave Jurgen his knock out.
`We had been riding together the whole time' tells Koolen. `We took turns riding in front. The last part I was leading. I got to the finish and was all by myself. The official of the organization told me I really had to go would I want to get to the bivouac in time, something I needed to do so I could start tomorrow. I had to keep going otherwise we both would be out.'
Saturday evening, 18.03 on the clock, Koolen reached the bivouac in Arica and finished the 6th stage that he had started Friday morning. Koolen and Van den Goorbergh did not start the special until 3 pm, completely destroyed from the previous 24 hours struggling to get though the terrain. `Driving the last liason to Arica, I had a hard time keeping my eyes open' Koolen confesses. `Not a big issue in the dessert as you will get stuck in the sand but it is a different thing on the roads. During the day I have had a few moment when I thought: `I am giving up, I have had enough', purely because of fatigue. But then Jurgen would pull me through and when he would have a tough moment I would pull him through.'
The dunes were no problem for the buggies. With lowered tire pressure the GoKoBra buggies went over the high sand hills without too many issues and problems. `That went really well,' says Koolen. `the issue is the fron part of the buggy. We can't push it as that results into breaking of the ball joints. I had two broken today, Jurgen five.' At kilometer 140 in the special, 11 pm, the two men decided to go to sleep, knowing that there was a tough part of the special ahead, impossible to get through in the dark. `It was really cold. My toes were frozen. All I had with me was a light coat.' Around 4 o'clock they continued their trip towards more dunes and kilometers of track filled fesh fesh mixed with rocks. Van den Goorbergh dynamo was broken and they kept changing batteries. `At some point I thought: `we are almost there,' says Koolen. `And that is when we hit the fesh fesh. It took us hours and hours to get through that. Should be no issue if you can play with the throttle but as soon as we gave a bit of gas something would break.'
Koolen went for a shower, some food and some well deserved sleep while the mechanics took the jeep to get Van den Goorbergh, stranded in the desert.
The special of the 7th stage, from Arica to Antofagasta, has been shortened with aprox 200 kms. Originally the stage would have two specials but the second part has been canceled resulting in one special of 252 kms.
Jury decides; Koolen out too
The Dakar Rally jury has decided that Kees Koolen is not to start tomorrows 7th stage. As Van den Goorbergh got to the bivouac completely destroyed, Koolen heard the news. The explanation was that Koolen and Van den Goorbergh would not have finished the 5th stage completely, but according to the jury went over the road from CP2.
Strange is that the head quaters in Paris told Koolen and Van den Goorbergh to take the road to the bivouac in Iquique during the fith stage. Strange too is that Dkara-director Etienne Lavigne himself came to wish them good luck at the start of the 6th stage. `If that is the case, they should not have let us start,' says Koolen, who protested against the decision of the jury and is trying to persuade Lavigne to change the verdict. As long as it is not 100% sure that Koolen is out of the competition, the team is working to get his buggy ready for the start.
Jurgen van den Goorbergh's race is over. He could not finish the 6th stage, from Iquique to Arica. Only 5 kilometers before the finish the dynamo of the GoKoBra buggy completely stopped. Van den Goorbergh was picked up by his assistance team and towed to the bivouac, arriving more than three hours after the 7 o'clock curfew.
`There is basically no chance for me,' says Van den Goorbergh. `But I want to do everything I can to get Kees to start. Whatever it takes as this is not fair. If you can't trust the information and instructions of the head quarters, then what do you do.' Van den Goorbergh was still recovering from all his adventures. `Unbelievable, really unbelievable, what went wrong,' he says. `One ball joint after another broke. There must have been something wrong with this batch. Something to sort out when we get home. For now I am really pissed off I can not continue. When riding, the buggy is great. Power, speed and possibilities! I am convinced of the buggy's potential. Dakar was the ultimate test. We know our focus points and challenges and will improve them all.'
-source: team gokobra