Tough Dakar day ends up all smiles

TreasuryOne Motorsport endured another difficult day in the desert as Hennie de Klerk and Johan Smalberger overcame several scares and challenges to bring their Red-Lined Nissan Navara home 44th on the day to end up 40th overall at the end of the fifth stage of the Saudi Arabian Dakar Rally. But while the day was something of a dark cloud, it certainly ended with a silver lining in a splendid story to tell on arriving at Ha’il…
“Today was another long day that never started on the right foot and then never quite got off it,” Hennie de Klerk recounted. “We changed the differential on the Navara last night and somehow the sump plug was not tightened. Luckily our crew was driving behind us and noticed the leaking oil and stopped us to sort the problem out next to the road — I’d hate to know what would have happened if we ran that diff without oil into a 450km stage!
“It went well early in, but today’s level one dunes proved a lot more technical than what we have been used to over the last few days, but then we had a few navigation issues and got lost and had to go back to find it to avoid a 40 minute penalty. “After that we struggled on the wrong tyre pressures and then we were very lucky to get away with it when the TreasuryOne Navara came down on its nose after a jump and we only just avoided a rollover.
“So it was not our best day — we made some mistakes and could have planned a bit better, but hey we are still in it and just a day away from the rest day in Riyadh and we’re looking forward to staging a comeback and making up some lost ground from there. “Let’s hope that we’ve used up all of our bad luck already!
“In closing, we have a really cool story of Dakar spirit to tell — last night, when we were stuck with no more spare wheels, a rival stopped and gave us a tyre plug to fix that last puncture and get us home to avoid a penalty — we were lucky for that. “This evening, we were running pretty late and came up on a side-by-side vehicle stopped on the side of the road not far from the finish and we decided to go back and help them out.
“Turns out they were out of fuel, so we hooked them up and towed them out or they would be excluded for outside assistance. “Best of all, we later discovered that they were the same guys who helped us out with that tyre repair plug in the pitch dark last night — a perfect example of what goes round, comes around that pretty well made our day!”