Trucker from Veldhoven wins Dakar Rally

Dakar 2023 - Janus van Kasteren - truck
Janus van Kasteren met team. Photo credit: Omroep Brabant (Ronald Sträter)

Janus van Kasteren won the Dakar Rally in the truck classification last Sunday. In the last stage the trucker from Veldhoven maintained his lead over the number two in the rankings. Van Kasteren drove unthreatened along the Persian Gulf to the finish in Dammam.

On Saturday, Van Kasteren’s overall victory was almost certain. In the penultimate stage of the two-week rally he saw competitor Martin van den Brink drop out of the standings, because of gearbox problems. The Czech Martin Macek, who moved up to second place as a result, was an hour and fifteen minutes behind the Veldhovenaar. It turned out to be an impossible backlog the next day, whereby Janus van Kasteren became the best in the truck classification.

In the final stage over 136 kilometers from Al-Hofuf to Dammam, Van Kasteren took no risks and did not interfere in the battle for the day’s win. He finished seventh, six minutes behind the winner, Vaidotas Paskevicius from Lithuania. Mitchel van den Brink drove his Iveco to second place, seven seconds behind Paskevicius.

Fatal accident

Van Kasteren was one of the big favourites. This was due to the absence of Kamaz’s Russian truckers, who dominated the rally in recent years. Because of the war in Ukraine, the Russians were not welcome in Saudi Arabia. De Veldhovenaar got up to speed in the second week and won three stages.

The Czech Alais Lopres initially seemed to control the rally, but after running over a spectator, he retired from the standings. From that moment on, Van Kasteren was the leader of the classification and did not relinquish his position.

Final ranking

In the final classification, Van Kasteren was more than an hour ahead of the Czech Martin Macik. Martin van den Brink, Mitchel’s father, finished third on the podium, two hours and fourty minutes behind Van Kasteren. This further confirmed the success of manager Gerard de Rooy’s rally team.

In-cab experience

“It wasn’t easy, we had to go full throttle all the time. I’m very happy that we made it,” said winner Van Kasteren at the finish. “It was a very tough rally, especially because of the high sand dunes. I benefited a lot from the experience in my cab. My navigator Marcel Snijders from Neerkant won the rally twice before with Gerard de Rooy and my mechanic Marcel Snijders experienced his sixteenth Dakar.”

Van Kasteren says he enjoyed his stage victories the most. “I really liked my first stage win, but also my third. We won it with more than 30 minutes difference over the rest and there we laid the foundation for the overall victory,” said the trucker.

Five Brabant victories

Van Kasteren is the first trucker from Brabant who wins the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. Gerard de Rooy achieved his victories in the years that ‘Dakar’ was held in South America. Stacey and Jan de Rooy won in North Africa, the cradle of the desert rally. With Van Kasteren’s overall victory, this is the fifth time that a Dutchman wins the Dakar Rally for trucks. A Brabant citizen, like the four winners before him.

Source: Omroep Brabant

Translator: Martijn


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