WhatDakar 2020 First Week
WhereRiyadh, Saudi Arabia
WhenSaturday 11 January 2020

Tough week can’t stop de Klerk, Smalberger

South African TreasuryOne Motorsport duo Hennie de Klerk and Johann Smalberger were relieved and satisfied to bring their Red-Lined Nissan Navara home ahead of Dakar 2020’s rest day in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in perfect fettle in 36th position overall after finishing the stage in 33rd Friday afternoon. Although it was by all means a challenging and treacherous first week, the Pretoria duo ticked off their second major objective by ending the first week in one piece.

“This race is all about reaching the finish,” 2018 Dakar Rookie of the Year de Klerk pointed out. “First we must finish the first day, then the first week, as we have done and then the big one is to finish and we are only half way there. “It’s been a really tough week though, but today, for a change we did not score own goals — our navigation was great and we pushed hard in the dunes, so we are happy with the result.

The week started with a small technical problem on Sundays opening day, when a ruptured brake line stopped the TreasuryOne Navara's early rise from 53rd starting position into the top 30. De Klerk and Smalberger were forced to stop to make emergency repairs and then again to change a puncture, plummeting to 68th, before charging back ten positions before the finish. 

Monday went much better as the Pretoria duo raced 58th to 33rd despite two punctures on a rough and treacherous route to Neom, racing behind the trucks that literally tore up the road ahead, before an almost problem free third day around Neom to move up another two positions to 36th overall despite another puncture on another precarious 453km Tuesday run to Al-Ula.

A  puncture-beset Wednesday proved the biggest challenge as de Klerk and Smalberger suffered four punctures to be left stranded on the open section home, only for the day to be saved by a rival crew who stopped in the darkness of the night to hand the team a plug to patch an already punctured tyre. That allowed the TreasuryOne Navara to limp home to stay in the race, but Thursday brought a litany of troubles, but ended with a wonderful story to tell. 

“We were running late near the finish and found a Side by Side Vehicle stuck without fuel and stopped to tow them in and save their race or they would be excluded,” Hennie explained. “It turned out that they were the same guys who had stopped to hand us that puncture plug to save our race the previous night and that is just such a cool story of the Spirit of the Dakar.”

“The week ended well for us after several challenges and a fair dose of bad luck, but our TreasuryOne Red-Lined Navara has run like a train throughout,” de Klerk concluded. “We made it to the rest day with ease at the end, so let’s hope that we've used up all of our bad luck already! “Now there remains one objective and that’s to reach the finish at Qiddiya — we are well into it, the car is running well and the team is primed — let’s do this!” 


Issued on behalf of TreasuryOne Motorsport

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