Stage 5 of the Libya Rally, a ride of 336 kms special from M’Hamid to Merzouga, was the most gorgeous day so far according to the majority of the competitors. Truck rider Martin van den Brink managed to overtake everybody except for four bikes.
Yet even Van den Brink had a few so called ‘moments’. It was difficult to see the differences in the dunes, because the sun was high. We made three jumps so high, another truck could have passed underneath us. It could have easily been 5 meters. The other moment was when we crossed one of the broken dunes in the end of the stage. Because we were the first we had to ‘break’ the top. We did but on the other side is was a steep downhill of some 4 meters. We landed on the nose of the truck, held our breath and luckily the truck decided to fall on its wheels instead of its roof.
It didn’t with the car of Ronald Schoolderman and Marcel Blankestijn. Their car flipped over to the roof and was too damaged to continue, so they have withdrawn from the rally. A real pity, co-pilot Blankestijn said. We would have won yesterday’s stage if the last part wouldn’t have been neutralized. I think that disappointment was still too much in our minds today.
One day is better than the others
Also the leader in the motorbike class, Mirjam Pol, just didn’t get into her rhythm. It just wasn’t my day, Pol said. I had a thing with the fuel tank that bothered me but luckily didn’t cost me much time. From 130 kms on I was together with Max Hunt, but we had opposite plans: I wanted to follow him and he wanted to follow him. I guess he won 10 to 12 minutes on me.
For the others it was just fun, fun and even more fun. Absolutely wonderful, the best day of all, said quad rider Gerben Lieverdink. The Dutchman is the only one in the quads who did all stages so far. One day is better than the other, but I only had one puncture so far and I’m really enjoying myself.
Also bike rider Erik Klomp, who did the Dakar last year, has a great time. It’s much more fun than the Dakar. The roadbooks are excellent and the routes are great because of the variety. A stage like today: everything was in it. I had a few technical issues that made it a bit less enjoying, but the route was superb.
Every single bit was fun
Belgians Vincent Thijs and Serge Bruynkens had to start in 28th overall today with their Mitsubishi but when they entered the bivouac at the dunes of Erg Chebbi only a few other cars and trucks where in. It was a very divers stage, Bruynkens told. These kinds of stages are the best. Fast tracks, very nice dunes, sometimes a bit tricky, but just fine.
Martijn van den Broek and Juup Willems had an off-day yesterday when the radiator of their Toyota broke. But today was fun, Van den Broek said. We took off one to last, but we enjoyed every single meter. There was a long climb in the mountains, dunes with huge rocks, every bit was fun.
Yesterday Coen den Hartigh had his truck stuck in the dunes twice and his crew had to dig deep every way. I felt really sorry for them, the Dutchman said. Yet it is better than last year, with less mistakes. Last year was the first time ever in the dunes and I know I just have to learn. But while learning you get stuck. Today we didn’t, but I have to admit we skipped the dunes in the last part of the stage. I didn’t want to do that again to my team.
Having fun too is Godfried Lintjens with a Can-Am SSV. Driving in the dunes with an SSV is much more fun than with a jeep or a truck. And I can tell, because I did it all: bike, car, truck. The lot. But I never had as much fun as with this buggy. In the dunes and on the softer terrain we are flying. Just take a look at the rankings: it’s the SSV’s that rule.