With Dakar 2017 set to be an extremely challenging race with fierce competition, the 39th edition of what has been described as the toughest event in motorsport will once again be hosted in South America. Starting on January 2 in Asunción, Paraguay, the route will wind from there through Bolivia and Argentina, covering more than 9 000km to finish in Buenos Aires on January 14.

For the seventh consecutive year, Iveco will be the official sponsor of Team PETRONAS De Rooy IVECO, providing vehicles and spares and taking forward the ongoing partnership that has led to two victories for the team and two second places.

Spearheading Iveco’s challenge is Dakar legend Gerard De Rooy – the team’s principal – who won the race in 2012, finished second in 2014 and won again in 2016. He’s aiming to emulate that success in the upcoming event, perhaps even eclipsing 2012’s achievement which saw the team finish first, second and sixth. “We’re refreshed, prepared and raring to go,” he says.

The team has entered three vehicles in the race, De Rooy driving a sleeper cab version of an Iveco Powerstar 4×4, and Ton van Genugten and Wuf van Ginkel each in Iveco Trakker 4x4s.

The trucks are equipped with Iveco Cursor 13 engines which produce 900 horsepower. The units have been specially engineered by FPT Industrial, the powertrain brand of CNH Industrial, one of the world’s largest capital goods companies. Seven additional vehicles – six Trakkers and one Daily – will complete the Team PETRONAS De Rooy IVECO line-up, providing support and assistance.

Navigating for De Rooy will be Spaniard Moi Torrallardona, with whom he won the 2016 event. Torrallardona is an experienced co-driver who has been with the team since 2015. Mechanic Darek Rodewald will be the third crew member.

The second vehicle, a day cab version of the Iveco Trakker, will be driven by Van Genugten, a truck driver by trade. He made his Dakar debut in the 2016 race, finishing fifth. Now he and his co-driver, Anton van Limpt, are hoping to eclipse that performance. They will be joined in the cab by Bernard der Kinderen, a long-time mechanic for the team.

The remaining Trakker will be driven by Van Ginkel, making his debut for Iveco. He has been tasked with providing fast assistance to his team mates during the event, essentially transporting key spare parts for the duration of the race. Erik Kofman will be his co-driver, with Bert van Donkelaar filling the technical support berth.

“We have prepared carefully, our vehicles have shown they fully deserve their reputation for reliability and they have proved that they can deal with the toughest conditions the Dakar Rally can present,” says De Rooy.

“All of us in the team are very experienced and we can’t wait to put our skills and our trucks to the test: pushing the boundaries of what’s possible is in our DNA – just like it is in our partner Iveco’s DNA.”

Iveco’s long-standing partner, Petronas – the team’s headline sponsor – will supply all lubricants and fluids for the race and service vehicles. Other sponsors include Sparco and OK Trucks, an Iveco-certified used vehicle brand.

Additionally, Federico “El Coyote” Villagra will compete again behind the wheel of an Iveco Powerstar, heading up an Argentinian team after achieving third place in Dakar 2016.

“With this year’s team, we hope to replicate the great performance of last year in which Iveco dominated one of the most competitive Dakar races ever, with five different truck brands in the Top 10,” says Iveco’s president, Pierre Lahutte.

“As far as we are concerned, we are sure that we will continue to put the excellent reliability of our trucks on the trails of the Dakar Rally, enabling the team’s outstanding pilots to give their best performance in the race.”