Gerard de Rooy and his Iveco Powerstar delivered an excellent performance during the eighth stage of the Dakar. It resulted in a second place ranking in the challenging second half of the rally. Ahead of him was Russian driver Nikolaev (Kamaz), who had an overall advantage of 11:16 minutes. Other competitors followed the two leaders at a considerable distance.
The total length of the special was 273 kilometres with the last 50 kilometres of the stage being particularly difficult and very sandy. Kamaz driver Nikolaev dominated the special from the start overtaking 16 other rally trucks with an average speed of almost 80 km/h.
Gerard de Rooy maintained a constant speed and was satisfied with the result. Hans Stacey came in seventh. He was in the top three until midway through the stage, but then lost time on the dunes, finishing 49:43 minutes behind the stage winner. Pep Vila experienced issues at the beginning of the stage, but was able to bring his Iveco Trakker safely to the finish, placing 16th.
In the overall ranking, the Kamaz drivers are fighting against each other and the differences between them are rather small. Mardeev is still leading but is challenged by a charging Nikolaev. For Team Petronas De Rooy Iveco, Stacey improved from 7th to 6th position, while Gerard de Rooy climbed the leader board from the 21st spot to the 14th.
“Everything went very well today. The first 160 kilometres of the special were rough and bumpy so I did not want to take any risks. When we entered the dunes we went as fast as possible. It was difficult for many competitors not to lose too much time today, as the navigation was very difficult at certain places. It was a great feeling to be the first truck to start the immense descent and to be the first to arrive at the bivouac,” said Gerard de Rooy at the finish in Iquique, Chile. “Besides the issues with the rear differential after that severe jump on the fourth day, we have had almost no problems with the three Iveco rally trucks. That gives us confidence for the second part of the Dakar,” said De Rooy.
After eight intensive, challenging rally days the truck competitors now have one day off to rest and look forward to the following days. The mechanics have 40 hours to prepare the trucks for the second part of the rally. Still five specials to go: 1,476 timed kilometres. The total distance to Buenos Aires is 3,336 kilometres.