Kees Koolen believes the ten-minute time penalty handed down to Carlos Sainz Sr. on Monday was not strong enough for the incident that occurred during Saturday’s Dakar Rally stage between La Paz and Uyuni, and could consider making criminal charges after the event.
The Dutch quad rider insists Sainz hit him during the stage, and although a penalty was handed out to the Peugeot Sport driver, Koolen insists the incident deserved a more severe punishment, and could take it further post-rally.
“In my protest, and I don’t say a lot about my protest, when there is a serious penalty for this case, I would be happy,” said Koolen. “If there’s not a serious penalty… Everybody knows I’m a businessman and have access to a lot of good lawyers, maybe the best lawyers in the world, better than these organisations have themselves.
“If you don’t take serious penalties I will take my measurements when I come home again and I will file a criminal offence.”
Koolen said it was a big shock when he heard the sentinel and saw the Peugeot flying towards him at high speed, and despite Sainz saying otherwise, there was a lot of damage to his quad due to the contact.
“Normally you look around when you hear the sentinel [and] you have 10 or 20 seconds [to decide] what to do,” said Koolen. “I hear the sentinel, look around, and at the same moment I go flying in the air. I think I was doing maybe 20 kph, the Peugeot was doing top speed, maybe 120, 150, 180…
“It was unbelievable. I was in the mud and was very lucky in the end. He hit the quad. You can see on my quad that there was a lot of damage. He says he didn’t hit me.
“My origin is that I’m an mechanical engineer. The part that was hit and deformed, I will ask a 3D engineer to calculate it, but I think you need 1500 kilos, to deform something, maybe 2000 kilos. He said nothing happened, he didn’t feel it.
“I will ask technical experts, I have the parts saved. I expected somebody to steal it this night so I can’t prove it anymore, but I have saved them and will give it to a calculating company, they will see what the force was.”
Koolen believes had Sainz hit him twenty centimetres to the left, it perhaps would have been an even more serious outcome for the Dutchman, believing that it could have possibly been a fatal accident. He was also critical of the lack of concern from Peugeot, who at no point came up to him to ask about his well-being.
“It was about this situation,” said Koolen. “I was there in a difficult situation and the car created a very dangerous situation. If the car would hit me 20 centimetres to the left, I would be dead.
“I think if I would be dead, it would have been a lot easier for Peugeot and Carlos because then I wouldn’t be able to talk anymore. I could have been dead and he didn’t even look around, did not stop, did not ask afterwards if I was okay.
“Peugeot didn’t come to me. Everybody’s talking in the office behind me and I wasn’t asked about anything. I could have been dead and nobody cares. Because they have to protect a good rider and to protect each other. I have had no apologies, nothing.
“If we are racing and I hit you, at that moment we’re racing but afterwards we come to each other to shake hands, to talk about what happened, ‘are you okay, can I help you?’
“Nothing of that. I think that is the worst thing. They consciously took very big risks, for danger for the life of people. They don’t help and don’t apologize. I can’t imagine that.”
Koolen also revealed that Dakar organisers did not question him about the incident until after the penalty for Sainz had been handed out, and he admitted that he would have kept his mouth shut had a more serious penalty been given to the Spaniard.
“I think what is very strange and very stupid, nobody has asked me anything, only the press,” insisted Koolen. “When it happened nobody came to ask me what happened. Not Peugeot, nor Carlos. Now I hear that there is a result from the jury, I was not asked about it, nobody asked me anything.
“I think the penalty should be very big, not because of Carlos but because of the situation. It should be an example for the motorbikes. Yesterday the riders on bikes have complained about the same people. The FIM has asked me to write a letter, because all the other riders were very afraid to file a complaint.
“Everybody knows that these are French organisations and there is a lot of rumours about French organisations that they help each other, they protect each other. I don’t believe in that, I think they are objective and correct people.
“I said to myself yesterday, if there is a serious penalty, I will keep my mouth shut and will not talk about anything anymore, but this is ridiculous.”
Koolen stops short of laying the blame all on Sainz, believing the problem is much bigger than just one driver, particularly as other riders have made complaints some of the car drivers.
“I think it’s not about Carlos, I think it’s wrong to talk about that,” said Koolen. “It is about the situation. This is an example that the cars should care about safety.
“ASO, FIA, FIM always tell us that you can do what you want, you can do a dangerous sport but there is one rule, that’s safety first. If somebody is in danger, you help each other. And they didn’t do these things.”