The Dakar is famous for being a cruel event that often delivers a nasty sting in the tail — a reputation that delivered right on cue for TreasuryOne crew Hennie de Klerk and Johann Smalberger as they race towards the Qiddia finish in what was looking good to be a fine 26th overall amongst the cars after a torturous two weeks fighting across the treacherous Saudi Arabian Desert.
“With about a hundred kilometres of the 7500km Dakar left to race, and the car just stopped,” Hennie de Klerk reported. “The gearbox input shaft had failed and there was no more drive — we were stuck! “The only option we had, was for a competitor to tow us home to the finish — our Red-Lined Nissan Navara teammates stopped, but they were also having a bit of trouble and the guys behind them overall were too close so they raced on.
“Luckily that famous Dakar spirit was still strong on the final day and Spanish KH-7 MAN truck team Jordi Juvanteny, Jose-Luis Criado and Xavier Domenech stopped and offered us a tow out of the stage and all the way to the finish. “Dakar rules allow a vehicle to be towed, as long as we are towed by another competitor — that spirit of rivals helping one another along the way is one of the unique highlights of the Dakar that we so love and which makes us so want to come back again.
“Anyway, thanks to Jordi, Jose-Luis and Xavier, we made the finish and were classified 34th overall and to be honest, to be at the finish was a huge achievement and relief — the best moment of our year for sure. “Yes, we could have been a little further up the order and that problem lost us a hell of a lot of ground we’d made up through the second week, but a finish is a finish and we are proud of the whole TreasuryOne team for pulling this one off against the odds.
“Johann is the best navigator at the Dakar — his notes were perfect — we never picked up a single penalty throughout the week and he was incredible in changing all those punctures we had in that mad first week, when we got stuck and even finding a way home when we had run out of tyres that dark night in the desert.
“Then to our team — the guys worked many a night and pulled off a couple of miracles to keep us in the race, while Red-Lined Motoring Adventures were always there, not to mention a few other guys who came across to help out in the wee hours while the guys struggled with a few unexpected challenges on the car. “That Dakar spirit also helped us more than once and we are eternally grateful to our rivals who helped us to the finish on more than one occasion through the race and we are also happy to have helped out along the way too — it certainly paid dividends when those roles were reversed!”
So yes, all in all Dakar 2020 was one hell of a challenge — as Dakar always is. From the rough rocks, punctures and torn-up track while we battled to get clear of the mad truck lead dice we were either chasing or trying to get past in the first week, to the beautiful few days running without any problems and loving every second of all of it, it has been an incredible adventure every second of the way and we are proud to have finished our second Dakar in two attempts.
“Now to decide what’s next for TreasuryOne Racing — bring that on, whatever it is!”