As the final showdown of the Dakar rally approaches, the participating pilots in their trucks prepared for a new battle in the large sandpit of the Empty Quarter.
Stage 11 started with a liaison of 151 kilometers. This was followed by a special of 275 kilometers. After that it was straight into the Parc Fermé. The terrain consisted of many dunes, but also treacherous chotts; dried up riverbeds with soft swampy areas that are difficult to spot. If you get it wrong, you run the risk of getting stuck and that you need help to get out again.
Classification leaders Janus van Kasteren jr., Marcel Snijders and Darek Rodewald started the stage third on behalf of Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco. Team De Rooy’s pilots had agreed on a tactical plan for the second part of the marathon. Van Kasteren jr. completely in line with the plan let Martin Macik pass and the Czech set the pace.
Colleague pilot Mitchel van den Brink waited for his teammate and father Martin van den Brink who had started behind him. In this way both Janus and Martin got backed up by Mitchel. After the rest day, agreements have been made and the youngest Van de Brink takes on the role of fast assistance. He helps the two best placed teams of Team De Rooy if necessary.
As expected, Macik fought hard to recover time in the general ranking. He therefore was leading during the first part of the special. At the third waypoint, however, he had lost time and from that moment on a beautiful 1-2-3 for Team De Rooy seemed to be in the making. The tactical plan paid off perfectly, but things turned a bit bitter when Janus van Kasteren Jr. got his Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco Powerstar stuck in a dune.
Fortunately, Mitchel was able to do his job as a fast assistance truck. He quickly pulled Janus Jr.'s truck free and he was able to continue his race. Janus jr. continued the rest of the special without any problems, but at the finish, the team with starting number 502 had almost completely lost the lead in the general classification. From the 22 minutes and 41 seconds at the start of the day, there is now only 1 minute and 12 seconds left.
Martin van den Brink is ready to strike. The damage on Macik was limited. The number three in the standings is still well behind Janus van Kasteren Jr. by 47 minutes and 46 seconds. Mitchel van den Brink suffered a malfunction in the turbo sensor after helping Janus and lost a lot of time again. In the general classification he is almost 3.5 hours behind in fifth place.
Janus talks about a tough stage: “Man, what a day. I didn't know they could make a day in a marathon special so tough. There were dunes… There are many teams that got stuck today. We went down one dune crest and then we nose-dived into another dune. Luckily Mitchel pulled us out. We could keep shoveling, but more sand came back every time we shoveled. We tied a rope around the leaf spring and pulled the truck out. Now it's all or nothing. Three more days. I am very confident. If we just do our thing and don't have any bad luck then it can still work out for us. I'm glad I'm in the bivouac. Nothing else on the truck except for one tire that didn't come off. Everything else is fine.”
Tomorrow part two of the marathon stage awaits with a special stage of 185 kilometers with lots of sand, dunes, fes fes (very soft sand) and lots of chotts! So be careful in the exciting battle for overall victory in Dakar 2023!
Source: Boss Machinery - Team de Rooy