Monday, April 15, 2024

Janus van Kasteren, Michiel Becx return to Team de Rooy for Dakar 2024

Janus van Kasteren will try to become the first non-Russian to win the Dakar Rally‘s truck category in consecutive years since Karel Loprais in 1998 and 1999 when he rejoins Team de Rooy for the 2024 edition. He will once again pilot an IVECO PowerStar as part of the team’s three-truck effort, joined by Michiel Becx and Anja van Loon.

Although the absences of powerhouses KAMAZ-master and MAZ-SPORTauto led to a weaker T5 field than usual, van Kasteren still faced stiff competition in 2023 from Aleš Loprais and fellow IVECO driver Martin Macík Jr. After Loprais withdrew from the second half of the rally due to a fatal accident, van Kasteren and Macík traded blows before the latter suffered a late brake failure that enabled van Kasteren to pull away. Van Kasteren finished over an hour ahead of Macík with three stage wins.

Becx rejoins Team de Rooy after finishing seventeenth in class with them at the 2020 race. He made his début in a car in 2019, then took a year off in 2021 before entering the 2022 Rally in T3. Driving for Arcane Racing, he finished twenty-third in the category. Due to his friend and navigator Edwin Kuijpers overseeing business matters at his company AluShutter, Becx did not race the 2023 event.

Van Loon finished fourteenth in T3 at the 2023 Rally before beginning a transition to trucks, placing fifth among trucks at the Morocco Desert Challenge in April. She will lead an all-female crew alongside Floor Maten and Suzanne Peek, the first such trio for a truck team since Véronique Jacquot, Géraldine Brucy, and Uta Baier in 2004.

The three trucks will enter the Rallye du Maroc on 13–18 October as a final dress rehearsal before the 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January. While the trucks are only appearing at two rounds in 2023, van Kasteren can secure the World Rally-Raid Championship in T5 at Morocco; he currently leads Macík by eleven points. 2023 is expected to be the final year of the T5 championship before being discontinued due to a lack of entries outside of Dakar and Morocco.

Team de Rooy is led by two-time Dakar truck winner Gerard de Rooy. The Dutch outfit also has a partnership with Eurol Rally Sport, who fielded trucks for the father/son duo of Martin and Mitchel van den Brink in the 2023 Rally.