January 12, 2024
First week of Dakar: Podium chances for Mitchel van den Brink and Giniel de Villiers!
The sixth stage in the Empty Quarter was particularly challenging. Eurol driver Gert Huzink of the Jongbloed Dakar team lost a lot of time in this stage due to a roll-over, sadly losing his eighth position in the overall classification. The hybrid Renault truck from MKR Technology was fast from the start, even clocking the second-best time in the first stage.
Martin van den Brink lost time in various stages during the first week. He has no ambitions for a top 10 ranking, but aims to assist his son Mitchel. Rotsaert from the Belgian RTS racing team unfortunately dropped out in the fourth stage due to a broken rear axle.
Mitchel initially did not start well, particularly losing a lot of time in the second stage. Subsequently, he picked up speed and climbed in the rankings. The Eurol driver finished second in three consecutive stages. Major rivals Pascal de Baar and Van Kasteren lost significant time in the sixth stage.Mitchel now, as the best Dutchman in the overall standings, needs to keep ahead of the strong Czech competitors Macik and Loprais, but anything is possible in this Dakar rally.
Truck classification up to Stage 6:
1. Macik 28:59:18
2. Loprais +01:16:42
3. MITCHEL VAN DEN BRINK +01:49:59
4. Van Kasteren +02:37:53
Among the Eurol drivers of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, Giniel de Villiers immediately made an impact by securing a third-place finish in the first stage. Then, Giniel drove three relatively inconspicuous stages, finishing just outside the top 10. From stage 5, Giniel returned to the top 10 of the daily standings. In stage 6, podium contenders Al Rajhi and Al-Attiyah dropped out, and other favorites including Peterhansel lost a lot of time.
The consistency of the South African former Dakar winner has brought him to an impressive sixth place in the overall standings. A podium position is definitely still within reach for Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dennis Murphy.
Also notable is the performance of South African Guy Botterill with navigator Brett Cummings, participating in the Dakar Rally for the first time. An eighth place in the overall standings is impressive, and with the small time differences, a top 5 position is certainly not out of the question.
Rookie Saood Variawa with navigator Francois Cazalet started strong with an 11th place in the first stage. Afterwards, he drove a consistent rally between 19th and 29th place, putting Saood in a commendable 21st place in the overall standings.
Car classification up to Stage 6:
1. Sainz 24:59:32
2. Ekstrom +20:21
3. Loeb +29:31
4. Moraes +01:04:00
5. De Mevius +01:09:47
6. GINIEL DE VILLIERS +01:25:16
8. GUY BOTTERILL +01:49:31
21. SAOOD VARIAWA+04:06:06
The second week of the Dakar Rally will start on Sunday, January 14th, from the capital Riyadh. Six more stages are to follow, with the finish on Friday, January 19th, in Yanbu. It's sure to be exciting! Don't miss anything and follow the performances of our drivers on Eurol's social media pages.