|Dakar Rally 2014: Overdrive Toyota´s Van Merksteijn’s third Dakar adventure.|
Peter van Merksteijn senior and his navigator 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 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.
In the cars category 151 teams are registered. The last two editions are won by Stephane Peterhansel in a X-raid 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.
2014/01/04 | 19:37 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/VM