Victory in Today's Stage Puts Iveco on Top in The Dakar
In the first special with a strong focus on navigation, Gerard de Rooy skillfully threaded his way through the dunes of northern Argentina and landed his Iveco Powerstar in first place in the general classification after proving himself as the best competitor in today's race.
After crossing the finish line of today's stage, the pilots agreed that the course, which covered 534 exhausting kilometers and produced changes in the top spots in all four categories of the 2016 Dakar Rally, was "90% navigation".
Stage 8, connecting the cities of Salta and Belén, included the first sand and dune areas, which put the remaining teams' navigational and driving skills to the test. It was Gerard de Rooy who knew how to get ahead in the Trucks category and claim Iveco's second stage victory in this edition. Thanks to this win, the Dutchman, who won the Dakar in 2012, is now leading the race, but this is not the first time that Iveco has been in the lead in the general; Federico Villagra dominated the entire lineup in Stage 5.
Gerard de Rooy crossed the finish line 2 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of the Russian pilot Eduard Nikolaev and 5 minutes and 23 seconds ahead of Andrey Karginov, both of whom were piloting Kamazes. Federico Villagra finished today in 6th place and was the strongest Iveco competitor after De Rooy. The Argentine pilot is just 2 minutes away from the competition's Top 5.
Pieter Versluis's relatively slow progress and the great distance Gerard de Rooy was able to put between himself and the Dutch pilot today allowed Team Petronas de Rooy to make it to the top of the Dakar, but the team still has five stages ahead of it to defend this privileged position.
The Iveco Trakkers also had a good day, with Ton van Genugten finishing 17 minutes and 34 seconds behind De Rooy and Pep Vila ending the day 29 minutes and 15 seconds from the lead. The Spanish pilot took advantage of Iveco's winning streak and broke into the Top 10. That means that, now, 4 of the 10 best trucks in The Dakar are Iveco trucks.
Starting tomorrow, the Dakar caravan will once again begin the so-called "marathon" stages, in which, at the end of the day, the competitors will not be allowed to receive help from their teams and the vehicles will be held for the night in a closed park. This may be a new filter in the competition, considering that the Belén-Belén loop, which begins this Tuesday, may be one of the most complex stages of the race.
One of today's biggest stories was Sebastien Loeb's rollover in the Cars category, which made him lose an hour and also any chance at victory. Stephane Pterhansel is now in the lead, but Carlos Sainz is very close behind. Toby Prince won his third stage in a row in the Bikes category and took the lead in the general. And the Patronelli brothers are dominating the Dakar in Quads and are trading first place back and forth, with Marcos ahead of Alejandro by just a couple of minutes.