Dakar 2024: "This is really our territory"

Dakar 2024: "This is really our territory"

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Mitchel van den Brink has again finished second in the fifth stage of the Dakar Rally. After the strong performance in the dunes, the Eurol Rally Sport team has shaved a good chunk off the gap.
Martin van den Brink steered the team's second truck from Harskamp to a thirteenth place. The short but fierce stage was won by Czech Martin Macik. Janus van Kasteren lost a lot of time, but remains leader in the standings.
After a long connecting route of over 500 kilometers, Janus van Kasteren opened the stage among the trucks. Mitchel followed at 12:23 a.m. (Dutch time) a minute later in second place. The 118-kilometer (or rather short) test took place in the dunes of the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia. There were two points on the route for timekeeping. At the first measuring point, after 39 kilometers, Mitchel was 5 seconds slower than the leader in the standings. Macik followed 49 seconds behind Van Kasteren.
After 80 kilometers, the situation had completely changed. Mitchel came through there, both physically and in terms of time, first. Martin Macik followed at 19 seconds. Janus van Kasteren at that point yielded as much as 24 minutes and 15 seconds to Van den Brink junior. Mitchel, Moi Torrallardona and Jarno van de Pol crossed the finish line after 1 hour 53 minutes and 17 seconds. Macik (penalized yesterday for missing two waypoints) needed 1 minute and 22 seconds (after deducting a 30-second time penalty) less for the 118-kilometer test.

'We stopped briefly at Janus'

That the 21-year-old Harskamper thus fell short of the day's victory was not to spoil the fun. ,,It was the first real day in the dunes. We've been waiting for this,'' said an enthusiastic Mitchel, just after he crossed the line. ,,We had a super rhythm. The truck didn't suffer much. We quickly drove close behind Janus. He got stuck in a gap. We stopped for a moment, but the navigator gestured that everything was ok. We continued in our own rhythm. It was really an insanely fine test for us. This is really our territory. We are already looking forward to tomorrow and Friday's stage.''

On the warpath in the dunes

With today's result, the Eurol Rally Sport team has revived its hopes of a real top classification. Van Kasteren still leads the standings. Macik is now second at 22m03s. Ales Loprais lost almost 40 minutes and is 26.05s behind in the general classification. Fourth place (at 48.56s) is held by Pascal de Baar. Mitchel passed Jaroslav Valtr and is now fifth overall. The deficit of 1 hour 6 minutes and 21 seconds still gives every hope for a place at the real top of the standings. The formation in the Iveco Powerstar is on the warpath and could not pick better terrain to do so than what they will face in the coming days; the dunes in the Empty Quarter.

Young doer

Father Martin van den Brink also had a fine day. The experienced driver from Harskamp steered the Iveco T-Way through the dunes around Shubaytah like a young doe. The team, also with navigator Jan van der Vaet and Kootwijkerbroeker Richard Mouw on board, drove conservatively out of the stage at 26.49 of the winner. ,,We drive carefully. As few problems as possible is our starting point,'' said 53-year-old Martin van den Brink. A thirteenth place became his share.

Eight different bivouacs

Tomorrow begins the so-called 48-hour stage. The organization has pulled a completely new format out of the hat. In two days, a connecting route of 781 kilometers and a special stage of 572 kilometers must be completed. The participants will spend the night in different places. There are eight places where a bivouac is set up. After the clock of 4 p.m., each participant must go to the next bivouac. The team mechanics are not present there. The drivers must do all maintenance on their vehicles themselves. Friday morning the stage will resume from 7 a.m. (local time). Then, after a long connecting route of 800 kilometers to Riyadh, a well-deserved rest day awaits.

Automatic translation of the Dutch Version
Source: Eurol Rally Sport
Text: Berry Kamphorst
Photo: MMphoto

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