Trucks are a beloved category whenever they appear at the Dakar Rally, but their limited presence beyond that means 2023 is the final year where they have a World Rally-Raid Championship to compete for. After winning Dakar in January, Janus van Kasteren can call himself the final T5 champion after surviving a brutal and rather controversial Rallye du Maroc.
Van Kasteren entered Morocco with a nine-point lead in the championship after defeating Martin Macík Jr. at Dakar. With Tomáš Vrátný forty-seven points back, the second and final round of the T5 season was effectively a one-on-one.
Macík had the dominant truck as he won the Prologue followed by Stages #1 and #3, while van Kasteren’s rally began on an inauspicious note when a branch went through his windshield in the Prologue and shattered it followed by a pair of broken left shock absorbers in Stage #1. Van Kasteren also lost time in the latter when he had to stop to assist team-mate Michiel Becx, who missed a waypoint and got stuck in a dune pan for an hour due to a flat right front tyre. As Macík took Stage #1, van Kasteren finished sixth and trailed by 1:32:30, a virtually impossible gap to close on pace alone.
He finally regained his footing by winning the second stage before edging out Macík for the Stage #4 victory by just two minutes, though Macík still held the overall going into the last stage as penalties plagued the rest of the field. However, the tables turned yet again when Macík was disqualified because his truck’s turbocharger restrictor was deemed too large by the FIA. While he is appealing the ruling, the penalty blew the doors wide open for van Kasteren to seal the title for good, albeit in rather ugly fashion as his truck’s chassis broke in Stage #5. He fell to fourth overall as a result, though his Team de Rooy still enjoyed a double-victory day as Becx managed a third-place run to win the overall.
“To become world champion, we had to finish, so that was the most important thing,” said van Kasteren. “It happened fifty kilometres before the end, which is of course a shame. End of the rally, Michiel has won. Also fun and secured the world title.”
Van Kasteren joins Kees Koolen as the only W2RC T5 champions. Despite the trucks’ popularity, the two-race schedule is the smallest of all FIA categories and does not justify a championship; T2 for production cars, which consistently had just two entries—from the same team, no less—at Dakar and Morocco, also does not have a trophy.
“The competitors are mainly interested in Dakar, so that’s why we decided to stop the T5 championship,” FIA cross-country rally category manager Jerome Roussel explained in July. “But the T5 are still there. They are still very welcome. They bring a part of the show which is very interesting. What they need is stability, so now we have FIA regulations in place and it’s planned to remain as it is.”
Vrátný finished third overall and first among W2RC-eligible drivers, enabling him to steal runner-up in the standings from Macík.
Anja Van Loon, the third Team de Rooy competitor, was fifth in her first T5 W2RC start after racing at Dakar in a T3.
T5 overall results
|1||506||Michiel Becx*||Wulfert Van Ginkel||Edwin Kuijpers||Team de Rooy||21:32:34||Leader|
|2||503||Gerrit Zuurmond*||Tjeerd Van Ballegooy||Klaas Kwakkel||Rainbow Truck Team||24:02:59||+ 2:30:25|
|3||502||Tomáš Vrátný||Bartłomiej Boba||Jaromir Martinec||Fesh Fesh Team||27:05:46||+ 5:33:12|
|4||500||Janus van Kasteren||Darek Rodewald||Marcel Snijders||Team de Rooy||33:01:10||+ 11:28:36|
|5||507||Anja Van Loon*||Marije van Ettekoven||Floor Maten||Team de Rooy||49:02:54||+ 27:30:20|
|6||505||Gert Huzink*||Rob Buursen||Martin Roesink||Riwald Dakar Team||59:36:34||+ 38:04:00|
|DNF||504||Javier Mariezcurrena*||Facun Vitoria Salaberria||Angel Iribarren Sanzberro||Truck Navarra Competición||DNF||N/A|
|DNF||509||Vaidotas Paskevicius*||Slavomir Volkov||Gytis Gaspariūnas||Fesh Fesh Team||DNF||N/A|
|DNF||510||Egbert Wingens*||Marijn Beekmans||Jan Paul Van Der Poel||DDW Rallyteam||DNF||N/A|
|DSQ||501||Martin Macík Jr.||František Tomášek||David Švanda||MM Technology||18:53:50||DSQ|
T5 stage winners
|Stage #1||Tomáš Vrátný||5:07:19|
|Stage #2||Janus van Kasteren||3:30:26|
|Stage #3||Janus van Kasteren||3:40:31|
|Stage #4||Janus van Kasteren||4:15:35|
|Stage #5||Gert Huzink||2:20:07|
|T1||201||Yazeed Al-Rajhi||Toyota Gazoo Racing||14:49:09|
|T2||251||Ronald Basso*||Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body||22:14:17|
|T3||315||Marek Goczał||EnergyLandia Rally Team||16:22:12|
|T4||403||João Ferreira||South Racing Can-Am||18:26:24|
|T5||506||Michiel Becx*||Team de Rooy||21:32:34|
|RallyGP||8||Toby Price||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||15:56:43|
|Rally2||32||Bradley Cox||BAS World KTM Racing Team||17:06:37|
|Rally3||164||Cheikh Yves Jacquemain||Africa Rallye Team||23:42:39|
|Quad||186||Alexandre Giroud*||Drag’on Rally Team||21:07:24|
|Open Auto||601||Jérôme Cambier*||MD Rallye Sport||21:21:46|
|Open SSV||653||Tomas Mickus*||BRO Racing||21:42:23|
|Road to Dakar Bike||71||Toby Hederics*||BAS World KTM Racing Team||19:11:16|
|Road to Dakar SSV||420||William Grarre*||Team Horizon Off-Road||21:50:39|
W2RC T5 standings
|1||Janus van Kasteren||157||Leader|
|2||Tomáš Vrátný||118||– 39|
|3||Martin Macík Jr.||102||– 55|
|Kees Koolen||0||– 157|
Co-drivers and mechanics are grouped into the same championship.
|1||Darek Rodewald||Janus van Kasteren||157||Leader|
|1||Marcel Snijders||Janus van Kasteren||157||Leader|
|3||Bartłomiej Boba||Tomáš Vrátný||118||– 39|
|3||Jaromir Martinec||Tomáš Vrátný||118||– 39|
|5||František Tomášek||Martin Macík Jr.||102||– 55|
|5||David Švanda||Martin Macík Jr.||102||– 55|
|Wouter de Graaff||Kees Koolen||0||– 157|
|Wouter Rosegaar||Kees Koolen||0||– 157|