Becx and Kuijpers slept in the desert with damage to the MitJet
Michiel Becx has to take one of the hardest decisions in his career
The fourth stage in Dakar is the first part of the marathon where there is no overnight service. The terrain is tough with a lot of sand, fesh fesh and stones. A lot of pistes have been damaged by the other competitors at the time that Michiel Becx and Edwin Kuijpers arrive. At several places they choose to take a detour because the terrain is impassable. The MitJet rolls on one of these parts and there appears to be damage to the engine. Becx has to take a difficult decision and drives back to Arequipa, he has to retire.
At first Becx and Kuijpers weren’t willing to give up, but the sweeper convinced Becx that it would be better to drive back on the normal road. “It was really a hard day with lots of sand and stones. We have been stuck very deep in a part of fesh fesh for almost three hours. It was still difficult afterwards, so many parts were completely wrecked. So we had to search for alternative routes to continue. One of them was so sharp and soft that the MitJet rolled, but we ended up on our tyres again. We were able to continue towards the neutral part and there it appears that the engine was having some issues.”
They started the second part in the twilight: “It was getting dark already but we were going to try it. We saw several competitors return because it was impossible. And it seems to be that way, it was so dark that we couldn’t see anything. But we didn’t want to give up so we continued. Eventually we end up in a ditch with a puncture. Afterwards it got really impossible so we decided to stay in the desert for the night and to sleep on top of a mountain in the valley. We prepared the car first so we could continue at first light because we had a crooked wheel and the deflating system was broken.”
“At one moment the sweeper arrives and we were talking about the stage and what was going to be next. They advised us to drive back to Arequipa because tomorrow the route would even be worse. If something would happen, we would be on our own. Of course we wanted to continue, but they really advised us to go back. After a while we decided to do so, but that was also a ride… Again a lot of broken terrains next to deep ravines. We arrived in Arequipa at 1 AM.”
Becx wants to drive on Sunday again: “The regulations gives the opportunity to restart in the second week of Dakar of those who retired in the first week. It won’t result in a medal, but it is a good opportunity to learn a lot. That is for us the reason to try it, so we will try to fix the MitJet in the next two days. We have really tried, but safety is the most important.”