2023 Dakar Rally: Janus van Kasteren wins first T5 title for IVECO since 2016

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Credit: Team de Rooy

The Dakar Rally‘s T5 category had long been a glorified test ground for KAMAZ-master, who had won the event nineteen times including every edition but two since 2009 with the exceptions being a pair of IVECO wins in 2012 and 2016. With KAMAZ out of the picture for 2023, IVECO was once again on top.

KAMAZ, along with perennial frontrunner MAZ-SPORTauto, were barred from entering the 2023 Rally as they refused to sign the FIA’s policy condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to perhaps little surprise as KAMAZ’s parent company is partly owned by the Russian government and has provided vehicles for the military in said conflict, while MAZ is overseen by ally Belarus. Without the Russians or Belarusians, other European brands became the main contenders as the top teams raced with the Italian IVECO or Czech Tatra. The 2007 Rally remains the last in which the Truck winner was not a KAMAZ or IVECO, when Hans Stacey won in a MAN.

IVECO enjoyed a top four sweep as Janus van Kasteren defeated 2022 World Rally-Raid runner-up Martin Macík Jr. and father/son duo Martin and Mitchel van den Brink. All but Macík raced for Team de Rooy, whose owner Gerard delivered IVECO’s two victories during KAMAZ’s reign; van Kasteren competed with Boss Machinery title sponsor while the van den Brinks were under the Eurol Rally Sport banner. Van Kasteren was the highest-finishing non-KAMAZ in 2022 in fifth, and finally sealed the deal when he inherited the lead in Stage #10 and never relinquished it.

Macík, driving for his own team, led the category in stage wins with five but lost the top spot after Stage #2 when his brakes failed. Close competition from Team de Rooy and Aleš Loprais meant the slightest slip-up was costly, and said failure resulted in him falling behind by over an hour. Despite his efforts to recover, Macík finished 1:14:34 back of van Kasteren.

“I went [to Dakar] really wanting to win,” Macík told Jan Červenka of Garáž.cz. “Every competitor should go there, we were ready for it with everything. Unfortunately, luck was not with us. […]

“Everyone kind of automatically assumed that we were going there and that we were going to win it (due to KAMAZ’s absence), and I told everyone not to go crazy, that this is Dakar and that anything can happen. The first stage was successful, everything suited us. Even when we came from the second stage with a colossal loss, there was talk about whether we could still make it. During the first stages, five crews crystallised that were sure to be going for the win, and then it wasn’t about KAMAZ, but just about those rivals who felt the chance as much as we did.”

Loprais was the overall leader for much of the Rally’s first half, but withdrew after accidentally hitting and killing a spectator in Stage #9. At the time of his exit, he was leading van Kasteren by twenty-seven minutes.

The van den Brinks provided the next biggest challenge to van Kasteren, but were hamstrung by multiple late problems. A day after Martin won Stage #10, his gearbox jammed and would not shift higher than fourth gear and a motor reset caused the vehicle to stop multiple times. Mitchel, the Stage #6 winner who celebrated his twenty-first birthday in Stage #13, spent most of the latter leg helping his father—who was higher in the overall—before more issues struck the team.

The Buggyra Racing Tatras of Jaroslav Valtr and Martin Šoltys were the highest finishing trucks not from IVECO in fifth and sixth. Teruhito Sugawara, racing for the Japanese Hino brand, rounded out the top ten.

Much like the other categories, the Trucks were subject to an extremely difficult route than in previous years, with many rolling onto their side or suffering significant wear-and-tear. Pascal de Baar had slowly climbed the classification after winning Stage #10, but his chances took a hit when his Renault broke down on his way to the start of the twelfth leg and he eventually settled for sixteenth overall. Macík remarked to Červenka that he could have won if the Rally was four stages longer simply because nobody would have finished.

KH-7 Epsilon Team fielded a MAN truck for Jordi Juvanteny that partly ran on hydrogen, which made it ineligible for T5 unless it had diesel power. Instead, the entry was categorised in the “Challenge New Energy” class and therefore started behind every truck. However, the experiment ended when Juvanteny rolled during the Empty Quarter Marathon. Also on the alternative power front, 2022 W2RC class champion Kees Koolen retired ten stages into what he expects to be his final start in a vehicle powered by fossil fuels; he had planned to field an electric truck in the 2023 Rally but had to hold off due to shipping delays.

Despite not taking part, KAMAZ’s personnel continued to follow the Rally. Two-time winner Andrey Karginov told Match TV that he did not have a particular rooting interest in the field, but there was intrigue as “new leaders have appeared in the race and those teams have hope for a podium. On the other hand, you want to be there, participate and fight for high positions. I am sure that KAMAZ-master will definitely return to the Dakar.”

KAMAZ also gave congratulations to van Kasteren and the other overall winners, praising them for a “beautiful fight, beautiful victories!”

T5 overall top ten

1502Janus van KasterenDarek RodewaldMarcel SnijdersBoss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO54:03:33Leader
2501Martin Macík Jr.František TomášekDavid ŠvandaMM Technology55:18:07+ 1:14:34
3506Martin van den Brink*Erik KofmanRijk MouwEurol Rally Sport56:43:55+ 2:40:22
4511Mitchel van den Brink*Jarno van de PolMoises TorrallardonaEurol Rally Sport58:06:02+ 4:02:29
5505Jaroslav Valtr*Rene KilianTomáš ŠikolaBuggyra Racing59:09:42+ 5:06:09
6503Martin Šoltys*Roman KrejčíDavid HoffmannBuggyra Racing63:12:16+ 9:08:43
7512Ben van de Laar*Jan van de LaarAdolph HuijgensFried van de Laar Racing64:52:59+ 10:49:26
8510Richard de Groot*Mark LaanJan HulseboschFiremen Dakarteam67:48:48+ 13:45:15
9509Tomáš VrátnýBartłomiej BobaJaromir MartinecFesh Fesh Team68:27:25+ 14:23:52
10519Teruhito Sugawara*Hirokazu SomemiyaYuji MochizukiHino Team Sugawara72:58:33+ 18:55:00
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

T5 stage winners

Prologue501Martin Macík Jr.MM Technology9:43
Stage #1501Martin Macík Jr.MM Technology3:57:18
Stage #2508Aleš Loprais*InstaForex Loprais Praga5:38:18
Stage #3501Gert Huzink*Riwald Dakar Team3:50:42
Stage #4501Martin Macík Jr.MM Technology5:10:23
Stage #5508Aleš Loprais*InstaForex Loprais Praga5:06:57
Stage #6511Mitchel van den Brink*Eurol Rally Sport3:46:58
Stage #7502Janus van KasterenBoss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO3:35:10
Stage #8501Martin Macík Jr.MM Technology4:04:28
Stage #9502Janus van KasterenBoss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO3:40:52
Stage #10507Pascal de Baar*Riwald Dakar Team2:09:46
Stage #11506Martin van den Brink*Eurol Rally Sport3:39:52
Stage #12502Janus van KasterenBoss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO2:30:38
Stage #13501Martin Macík Jr.MM Technology3:02:43
Stage #14514Vaidotas Paškevičius*Fesh Fesh Team1:18:34

Overall winners

T1200Nasser Al-AttiyahToyota Gazoo Racing45:03:15
T2250Ronald Basso*Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body107:39:42
T3303Austin JonesRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team51:55:53
T4428Eryk GoczałEnergyLandia Rally Team53:10:14
T5502Janus van KasterenBoss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO54:03:33
RallyGP47Kevin BenavidesRed Bull KTM Factory Racing44:27:20
Rally217Romain DumontierTeam Dumontier Racing47:03:58
Malle Moto40Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing52:24:42
Quad151Alexandre Giroud*Drag’on Rally Team56:44:30
Classic778Juan Morera*Toyota Classic428 points
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