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Van Merksteijn's Third Dakar Adventure
Posted by: newsla on Jan 04, 2014 - 07:07 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
Van Merksteijn's Third Dakar Adventure

Peter van Merksteijn senior and Eddy Chevaillier are full of confidence. This year it must happen: to reach the finish line of the world's toughest rally, 'Le Dakar'. The 35th edition of the race, and the sixth by the different landscapes of South America, is starting on Sunday, January 5th in Argentina. After 13 extremely tough stages over high mountains and dry deserts the finish will be on January 18th in Chile.


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The team of Van Merksteijn Motorsport has no illusions: each of the more than 9,000 kilometers will be extremely difficult. “In such a long race anything can happen.” Peter van Merksteijn senior is speaking from experience. In 2009 he seemed to be on track for a top ten ranking, when his car spontaneously caught fire. Last year it went well in the first stages, but the team had to retire after a collision with a hidden rock. Third time lucky, so to speak, but in the Argentine pampas, the mountains in the Andes and the Chilean Atacama Desert, sometimes luck plays hard to get.

“The event is a bit longer than last year, so it also will be a fight against fatigue”, navigator Eddy Chevaillier says. In any case the car with start number 335 is a good one. The Toyota Hilux with a 350 horsepower V8 engine under the hood, is perfectly prepared by Overdrive Racing again. During the rally, the Belgian team is also responsible for the technical maintenance of the vehicle.

The route in short

On Sunday, January 5th, the competitors will start in Rosario, about 300 kilometers west of Buenos Aires. The town is best known as the birthplace of Argentine freedom fighter Che Guevara. The first week of the event, the stages will take place on the pampas and through the mountains of the Andes. In particular, day four is a very difficult one. It’s game on for no less than 657 kilometer. It is the longest ‘special stage’ in the last ten years of Dakar. After the rest day on Saturday, January 11th in Salta, the route continues across the high mountains of the Andes to the northern part of Chile. There the long and tough stages through the Atacama Desert will start. Anyone who will reach the finish ramp on Sunday, January 18th in Valparaiso, the largest port city of Chile, is a winner anyway.

The favorites

In four ways you can participate in Dakar: on a motorbike, on a quad, in a truck or in a car. In the latter category 151 teams are registered. The last two editions are won by Stephane Peterhansel in a Mini. The Frenchman is a six-times winner on the bike and five times he won in a car. So he seems to be the biggest favorite again. His teammates are also contenders: Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar (the winner in 2011), Nani Roma from Spain (also an earlier winner on the motorbike), Orlando Terranova from Argentina and Krzysztof Holowczyc from Poland. The most notable opposition will come from Carlos Sainz from Spain (winner in 2010) in a SMG buggy, Robby Gordon from the USA in a Hummer, and Giniel de Villiers from South Africa (winner in 2009 and second last year), driving a Toyota Hilux, like Van Merksteijn. From the Netherlands there is a quartet drivers with HRX Ford, Bernard ten Brinke, Erik van Loon, Erik Wevers and Gert Huzink. Just like Van Merksteijn they all are aiming for a ranking in the top ten.

VMM app for the latest news

South America is not close to home, but it is easy to stay informed on 'Le Dakar'. Every day there will be the actual television images, and just like last year, the latest news about Van Merksteijn Motorsport will be on the new app for the mobile phone and tablet. The Van Merksteijn Motorsport Dakar app is available for free in the App Store and Google Play.

PaddockTalk Perspective

Also in WRC Rally News 2010:

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