|What||Dakar Day 13 Report|
|Where||San Juan to Cordoba, Argentina|
|When||Saturday 20 January|
TreasuryOne rookies lead way to finish
Two Pretoria businessmen, driver Hennie de Klerk and his intrepid navigator, ‘MacGyver’ Gerhard Schutte are about to make Dakar history as the TreasuryOne duo prepare for the short world rally championship style stage to the finish of the epic 2018 race in Cordoba, Argentina as the rookie leaders of the race on Saturday 20 January. De Klerk and Schutte enjoyed a very good thirteenth day that proved woefully unlucky for many others, to bring their home-spun TreasuryOne Amarok home 26th on Friday and they are now ready for the short loop home.
“We really cannot believe we are here,” a thrilled and excited but still most anxious de Klerk admitted. “We came to the Dakar looking only to finish on our first attempt and now somehow, we are in a very strong rookie lead with only 120km left to race. “It’s been an extremely tough Dakar — there are less than half the cars that started left in the race and we were one of only two rookie teams of the 17 in the race to start today’s stage, which also took out so many of the race favourites, so it’s been extremely tough throughout.
All the more amazing is that de Klerk is on his way to realising his dream in his own special way — he could have simply bought a Hilux or a Ranger, but instead Hennie built his own race car and went to take on the world at Dakar. Now the unique TreasuryOne Amarok is on the verge of stealing an unlikely rookie victory, having outlasted most of the 17 car crews to make their Dakar debuts this year en route to that hallowed finish ramp in Cordoba.
“There are some brilliant Dakar race cars built in South Africa,” de Klerk pointed out. “But I wanted to do it differently and I decided to work with CWT Engineering in Johannesburg to build my own TreasuryOne Amarok. “We’ve had so many people asking why a Ford V8-powered Amarok, but the rationale is simple — the TreasuryOne Amarok uses a similar pipe frame chassis covered with a glass fibre moulded body that resembles a road bakkie — just like the Hiluxes, Rangers and Renaults, on which this car is based.
“We initially used a 2.5-litre turbocharged 5 cylinder Audi TT RS turbo engine that sounded like those great race and rally Audis of the 80s, but when we decided to do the Dakar, we had to convert to a V8 to comply with Dakar regulations that call for only turbo diesel or naturally aspirated petrol engines. “We chose a 5-litre Ford Mustang V8 because it had the necessary performance, it was cost effective and had proven to be competitive and reliable in the Rangers, so we went that route.
“Anyway it has worked — we wanted to try finish Dakar our way on our first attempt and here we are — 120km from the finish and the first rookies on the road — unbelievable! “Of course we have many people to thank as usual — our incredible crew, our family, friends and fans and everyone else who has contributed to this incredible experience.
“Now its just 120 clicks to Cordoba, hopefully a huge party and then I think I’m going to crawl into a corner and sleep for a week! “Let’s do this!”