Thursday evening, the night before the rest day, Ton van Genugten expressed the wish that he would finally win a stage this week. At the first best opportunity, the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally, his wish came true. Van Genugten won the stage, De Rooy Iveco teammate Federico Villagra finished second in 2 minutes.

On the way in the for the trucks 369 kilometer long stage from La Paz to Uyuni, Van Genugten did not notice that he was winning. 

“I started three minutes behind Martin Kolomy and half-way I had him in sight, so I closed the gap. I knew I only had Villagra in front of me, but I did not know what happened behind me. I was hoping for a one-two, but I was too enthusiastic about that last week, so I’m a bit cautious about that.”

Van Genugten was well prepared on predominantly fast but muddy rally paths. In the mud he feels at ease, as previous years already showed.

“There was a lot of water everywhere, but the last part was with more gravel and turns. The last 150 kilometers I have driven full throttle to the finish. ”

There he had to wait for the other trucks to be sure about the win. In the rankings, Van Genugten moved up to fifth place. His lead on number 6, Airat Mardeev, is only a minute and 20 seconds.

In Uyuni, Van Genugten, Peter Willemsen and Bernard der Kinderen had to work. In a marathon stage – the seventh stage was the first part of it – assistance is not allowed. The participants have to do everything themselves. 

“Bernard will look after the truck, and also the one of Villagra, Peter will do the road book for tomorrow, and I will set up the tents”, said the brand new stage winner. “In any case, we have to refill the windshield washer, because it will be completely empty. The truck looks as if it has gone through hell.”

Federico Villagra, who opened the race as the winner of the sixth stage, was happy for his Dutch team-mate and granted him the victory wholeheartedly, but was a bit disappointed because he himself had made a mistake. 

“I like this kind of stages: I am a rally driver. But we made a stupid mistake. The trucks had a slightly different route than the cars and we followed the path of the cars.”

The stage victory was less important for Villagra, the time the more. Every minute is taken into account for the classification and Villagra won only 3 minutes on the lead of Eduard Nikolaev. 

“I am only 49 minutes behind”, the Argentinian calculated.  "That is not so much with what is coming. We get a few though stages, we still get Fiambalá. If Ton and I can work together, much is still possible. I think Kamaz has kept quiet today.”

Source Team De Rooy official press release