As the clear winner of Dakar 2012, Gerard De Rooy has embraced the challenge of confirming the domination of Iveco trucks. The Dutch team will have to manage the new generation of Kamaz pilots, which still has little experience of major events.
After periods of optimism, progress, disappointments and low moral, before regaining control only to suffer injuries, the De Rooy Team finally reaped its rewards last January. The cherry on the cake was that Gerard De Rooy drove the winning truck, exactly 25 years after the one-off success achieved by his father Jan. After the excitement had died down again, the team leader very quickly set himself an ambitious goal, which is sure to rally his team mates and inspire the entire Netherlands. If he pulls off this feat, it will signal the dawn of a new era and place Iveco trucks at the top of their field for many years to come. In 2012, Hans Stacey (2007 winner) closely followed his captain and cousin onto the podium. This year, the team has set its sights on the three steps, where it also hopes to see former WRC world champion Miki Biasion.
The De Rooy Team would, of course, be overjoyed to see a turquoise trio in Santiago, regardless of the order in which the teams are ranked. When it comes to thwarting their victory, there is no indication that the most serious threat could be posed by the former masters in this category, who suffered a setback in the 2012 edition. After the Chagin-Kabirov period, the new team has yet to live up to the promises made by Kamaz. For example, the heir apparent, Eduard Nikolaev, has stayed in the background since reaching 3rd place in 2011. In addition, it was ultimately Artur Ardavichus, the Kazakh who joined the Russian camp, who came to stand on the podium in Lima, having possibly exhausted his potential for improvement. The blue trucks have lost some of their shine, but it is widely anticipated that Chagin’s pupils will achieve a return to form on the road to Santiago.
In this context, the example of Gerard De Rooy could inspire Ales Loprais, who has frequently been an outsider in recent editions. The Tatra driver has often shown that he can drive as fast as his rivals and could be one of the claimants to the title… if he can put an end to his consecutive run of four withdrawals! Often clinching good results but rarely victorious, the Man trucks are now travelling to compete with their Dutch compatriots. Marcel Van Vliet (3rd in 2010) and Peter Versluis have their eyes on the podium and both have major strengths in their favour. Tickets will certainly come at a premium!