Dakar 2023: Stage 13 - "We will finish with our heads held high."

Dakar 2023: Stage 13 - "We will finish with our heads held high."

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Team Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco fight hard and never give up
 
AL-HOFUF - In the penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally, a broken gearbox has blown the fairy tale for Martin van den Brink. Despite the technical problems, the Harskamper can hope for a podium place at the ceremony in Dammam.
Mitchel van den Brink finished sixth today and will defend fourth place tomorrow on the final day. The teams of Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco can be very satisfied with the third and fourth place in the final ranking.
Martin van den Brink, Erik Kofman and Richard Mouw still hoped for a 'small miracle'. The stage in the Empty Quarter consisted mainly of dunes. In the border area with the United Arab Emirates and Oman, Martin wanted to go for another stage victory.
Quite early in the special, a technical problem threw a spanner in the works. De Harskamper finally crossed the finish line in nineteenth place with a gap of 2 hours 13 minutes and 25 seconds.
Martin Macik won the special. Janus van Kasteren finished second at 3m25s and can drive relaxed to victory tomorrow. Martin van den Brink, the 52-year-old rally pilot will record his best performance ever in the 'toughest rally in the world and his fifteenth Dakar Rally. ‘Last year, Martin, also in an Iveco Powerstar, finished sixth overall. Although the Kamaz team from Russia is absent, Martin will for sure cherish his very much desired podium finish tomorrow.
 
Experienced crew
“We ran into problems quite early in the special,'' says an audibly disappointed Martin van den Brink. “We lost a sensor in the gearbox. After 60 kilometers we were stranded and no longer had reverse gear. We had to top up the oil and the last 100 kilometers we drove without reverse gear.”
In the dunes this is very unpleasant for most pilots and even virtually impossible for many teams. “Nothing could go wrong on the last two dunes. We succeeded with our experienced crew,'' says Martin, who gave navigator Erik Kofman and mechanic Richard Mouw the credits they deserved.
“We are of course disappointed that we had this problem. However, we kept fighting and didn’t give up. Now we go to the bivouac in Al Hofuf. We can't go faster than 80 km per hour and we still have 500 kilometers to go,'' said Martin just after the thirteenth stage.
 
Disappointment or satisfaction?
In the cabin of the Powerstar, the men of Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco have enough time to give their feelings a proper place. It is clear that disappointment and satisfaction fight for priority. “It's a pity, but this is Dakar. We are now third and tomorrow we will finish it. We made our move in the first week. Now we need to secure the podium through the lead we built up. If that works out, we can still leave the rally with our heads held high,'' a very realistic Van den Brink senior said in conclusion.
 
Not a suitable birthday present
Mitchel van den Brink, Moi Torrallardona and Jarno van de Pol had to give up their hopes of a stage win quite early, due to Martin’s problems.
They eventually finished sixth at 25m08s. De Harskamper would have liked another birthday present. Despite the third place of Jaroslav Valtr, the fourth place overall for Mitchel and his men is not in danger. And the now 21-year-old rally driver can be very happy with that. Mitchel won a stage and that gives his fourth place overall, in his first Dakar Rally as “racing driver”, even more shine.
 
"Couldn't do anything more."
“After 20 kilometers we lost sight of my father,'' says Mitchel. “We drove around a dune to look for him. We saw them standing against a dune with gearbox problems. Our mechanic Jarno helped Richard, the mechanic on dad's truck. We then continued together, but after 20 kilometers we decided to resume the race. The troubles were not over but there was nothing more we could do except handing over some of our stuff like oil. Too bad second place is gone. We should be happy with third place. That's just the way it is.''
After the special, it turned out that also Janus van Kasteren had a technical problem. “Janus was standing on the side of the road with a rear axle problem. There is enough work tonight in the bivouac,'' says Mitchel van den Brink.
 
Long way to bivouac
But before the trucks can be handed over to the mechanics of Team De Rooy, they still have to cover some kilometers on the asphalt. The liaison to the bivouac in Al Hofuf is no less than 510 kilometers.
The teams can then prepare for the final day. The final stage of 136 km on the banks of the Persian Gulf takes the caravan to the finish in Dammam. This brings the total tomorrow to more than 4700 race kilometers.
 
Source Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco
Photo: A.S.O./F.Gooden/DPPI
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