Dutch armada gearing up for the race


Key points:

Ø  Yesterday, the Dakar brought together over 200 people in its event for Dutch competitors, who are smack in the middle of their preparation for the rally. Some went through “pre-scrutineering”, a new paradigm for the procedure.

Ø  The participants paid tribute to multiple-time truck stage winner Ton van Genugten, who passed away a few weeks ago, before moving on to the presentation of the rally.

Ø  From a sporting point of view, Team De Rooy is poised to return to the rally and keep the Dutch Dakar community on the edge of their seats in January along with other competitors, driving ultra-advanced trucks, but also a collector’s item. Dutch drivers feature in the large field of the Dakar Classic category, limited to vehicles from the 1980s and 1990s.

The gathering of Dakar competitors and fans in the Netherlands has become an institution. The riders, drivers, teams and sponsors that make up the community trade tips, organise joint actions… and, most importantly, share stories about the desert and the bivouac! The event has had several venues over the years, and this time round it was held on the Eiland van Maurik near Utrecht. Although there are still almost four months to go until the start of the rally, the riders, drivers and crews who were further along in their preparation went through pre-scrutineering. The new paradigm required flying two technical delegates to the Netherlands. 20-odd vehicles were inspected and recommendations were issued to a handful of competitors to avoid any nasty surprises during scrutineering in Jeddah.

During the presentation, which came after a laid-back barbecue, the Dutch were the first to find out that the technical and administrative scrutineering will be moved to the Red Sea coast to cope with the massive amount of registration applications received by the organisers. The show will hit the road with a prologue in Ha’il in which the Dutch contingent should be even larger than last January. In this country, where trucks reign supreme, the talk of the town is the comeback of Team De Rooy, which is determined to be in contention for the win from the get-go in 2022. While Gerard de Rooy has yet to make up his mind on whether to take up a place in the cabin, what is for sure is that he will be battling on several fronts, as he is also contributing to the success of the Dakar Classic by fielding one of the most iconic vehicles of the 1980s, the double-cabin DAF driven by his father Jan in 1984. “It’s overwhelming! I climbed inside a few days ago and brought my six-year-old son with me… He’s the same age I was when I saw it for the first time! This truck is part of my life because the Dakar is part of my life”, explains the boss of the team, who once stood where his son stands now and is eyeing the future with hunger for success. “Our challenge is to invest heavily in electric power in the near future. I want us to be able to field a truck that can contend for victory using new technology and in the short term.” How is that for a challenge?