After a few difficult days, Vick Versteijnen had been thrown back so far that he had to start the sixth stage of the Morocco Desert Challenge in the rear-guard. He finished the 308-kilometre drive from Merzouga to Boudnib in sixth, less than one hour behind Martin van den Brink who won the stage and Ales Loprais who remains in the lead in the truck standings.
Martin van den Brink: "It was finally a nice day. The mechanics worked hard on the truck tonight to repair things that had broken. It is not an obstacle to speed, if at least the track it is not too bad. We drove sensibly, but with a high pace.
We started the day helping others: first we pulled Gert Huzink out, who was stuck in the dunes, then Janus van Kasteren, who also was stuck for a while. Then we got Ales Loprais in sight. I think he took a wrong turn somewhere; otherwise, we would not have been able to get behind him so quickly. We caught up with him and he let us go. In an oued shortly before the lunch stop, we had a puncture, but we could change the tire during the lunch break, so that did not cost us any time. It's nice that we have taken 6 minutes back on Loprais, but as long as he does not make mistakes or breaks down, it is fairly impossible to keep him from winning."
Ales Loprais: "Opening the stage in the dunes was not a problem, but a bit later in the oueds it was difficult to navigate and we drove carefully because of the sharp stones. We wanted to win again today, but we did not succeed. Martin was just faster today and the margin is not so big that I can afford risks. My last success dates back to 2015 when I became second in the Libya Rally. After that it did not go all that well, but we now have both the truck, the crew and the service team working well and that is why I really want to win this Morocco Desert Challenge. That would be very good for confidence."
Vick Versteijnen: "In the dunes we were flying and we overtook about everyone. It was great. It was almost two years since I had had serious dunes, but apparently I have not forgotten how it goes. We even pulled Janus van Kasteren out and he was the first one to take the start. He was so stuck that we almost got stuck ourselves when we pulled him out.
Then there were many stretches where it was great drifting, but also parts where you easily could demolish the truck. The result could have been much better, but in the second part, we had to be careful. At the lunch stop we found out that, we had lost both our spare wheels and some tools 48 kilometres earlier. It was just a bit too far to drive back to pick them up, but without spare tires you have to drive a bit conservatively on the stones. It is a pity that we have the dunes behind us now. For the classification we do not participate anymore as we have over 100 hours of penalty and that is unfortunate, because on a day like today we have proven that we can compete with the top."
Don't limit your challenges. Challenge your limits.