South African Dakar rookie heroes Hennie de Klerk and Gerhard Schutte enjoyed their best day of the 2018 race as they powered the TreasuryOne Amarok to 26th on the day to move up to 32nd overall to consolidate their strong second among the rookies, just 12 minutes behind the leaders among Dakar’s debutants in what is proving to be a truly epic event. Thursday’s stage saw crews climbing out of the dunes of Peru and across the border into the extreme altitudes of Andes over terrain more familiar to the Pretoria crew.
“Today was much better,” Hennie de Klerk smiled on reaching La Paz for the rest day Friday. “We are finished with the dunes for now and today was all about cross country conditions, something I know well, except of course for the extreme altitudes we are driving at in the Andes.” It’s unbelievable to think that after racing most of the week in punishing 35 degree temperatures, we started today’s race at minus one degrees and above 5000 metres altitude.
“Thursday’s race conditions were mostly gravel and it rained for most of the day, which my Cooper STR Pro tyres handled beautifully — they played a major part in our powering the treasuryOne Amarok on to finish 26th and back up to 30th overall I think. “The Dakar circus is gruelling — we have spent on average 12 hours a day in the car, travelling from town to town and racing in-between and if that isn’t tough enough, it seems they are doing their utmost to break man and man machine — Dakar really is the ultimate test!
“We would once again like to thank our supporters back home — as well as a growing number of fans this side — for all the interest and messages of support — it makes such a difference to know people appreciate what we are doing. “We are doing this for you too.”
“And of course our team — the guys are doing a brilliant job keeping the treasuryOne Amarok in perfect fettle in the bivouac every evening — we are proud of what we are all achieving together. “Tomorrow we take a most deserved break, but Saturday sees us start another full week of the most gruelling race on earth — this is really just the start!”
Dakar 2018 returns to action Saturday 13 January following the rest day at La Paz, with crews racing the day at altitudes of between 3700 and 4000m on a mixed route of cross country conditions with an element of dunes too en route to Uyuni.