South Africa’s 2018 Dakar rookie winner, Hennie de Klerk and navigator Johann Smalberger, had a positive, if somewhat troubled, run to 58th on the opening day of the 2020 race in Saudi Arabia.
The TreasuryOne duo showed great pace to jump from their 53rd starting position into the top 30 after only 100km of racing.
But they were forced to stop to repair a ruptured brake line and then change a punctured tyre to plummet to 68th, before charging back ten positions again before the finish.
De Klerk reflected: “That was not quite the first Dakar day we'd expected.
"We took over an hour to fix a brake problem and then we had to take it easy as we could not bleed the brakes in the desert before also changing a punctured tyre, but we still had great pace."
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Top 20 target
He continued: "If we remove an hour of the 65 minutes we stood still for off our time, we’d have been close to our top twenty target. So all in all it was still a very good day even if the result does not reflect that - never mind that we have only raced about 300km of the five thousand we must conquer over the next two weeks, so all good.
“Today’s stage from Jeddah along the Red Sea coast to Al Wajh was really tough - we were moaning about the puncture, but we hear that we got away lightly compared to some guys and the brake line was just one of those things."
"For the rest our TreasuryOne Red-Lined Nissan Navara VK56 ran like a train - that Nismo V8 is an absolute treat in the dunes, on the tracks and in a straight line and the Navara is so well balanced too - it just leaves us to get on with driving as fast as we dare to and finding our way through the desert."
De Klerk concludes: “Besides a quick once over in our TreasuryOne rally tent at the bivouac this evening, the Navara is ready for tomorrow, when they say we will also be faced with some tricky navigation - we just can’t wait!"