The 100mph roll that stopped a Dakar frontrunner

Bernhard Ten Brinke was on the verge of the top five before a rally-ending crash just 25 miles from the finish


Overdrive Racing’s Bernhard Ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul were forced to abandon the Dakar Rally towards the end of the third stage on Tuesday, as a high-speed roll and subsequent damage to his Toyota Hilux proved too much to repair.

The Dutchman, contesting his eighth Dakar, started the third day of the event ninth overall ahead of the 250.4-mile Wadi Ad-Dawasir loop stage.

He and co-driver Colsoul had been putting in strong waypoint times and were sitting as the fourth fastest crew for the stage approaching the final 25 miles.

But the pair got caught out by a series of ditches near the finish and rolled the Hilux four times at a speed of approximately 100mph, causing significant damage to the car.

“About 40km [24 miles] from the end, it was a nice piste or stretch of road, at least we thought it was a nice piste,” Ten Brinke explained on social media.

“There were no dangers in the road book at all, we were in sixth gear, 160kph and suddenly we came across three ditches, about one-and-a-half, two meters and we had a big roll. It was a big impact, and the car was turning and turning and turning.”

The damage was too severe for Ten Brinke and Colsoul to be able to drive out of the stage, with the front-left corner suffering the worst.

Ten Brinke had to call his assistance trucks, which were provided by the factory Toyota Gazoo Racing Team, in order to get back to the bivouac. In addition to the broken wheel, the cooling on the Hilux was also damaged, meaning the engine was unable to withstand the nearly 80-degree heat in the desert.

“We had an impact at the front, my left front wheel was broken, the chassis is bent and that meant we could not repair it,” Ten Brinke explained.

“The problem is that we could not drive out of the stage because the engine coolers in the front were broken and the assistance truck was also not there to pull us. So, we had to call them again and get them to pull us out of the stage. So, the Dakar 2021 is over for us.”

Ten Brinke was joined on the list of retirements by X-raid Team’s Vaidotas Žala, who was plagued by a series of mechanical issues during the opening three stages.

Žala, who recorded a stage win on the opening test in the 2020 event, suffered a broken gearbox on stage one this year, forcing the Lithuanian to spend nearly 40 minutes repairing it on the stage.

With the new gearbox fitted thanks to his assistance being called into the stage, Žala had planned to make it out for stage third, but an engine failure on his Mini forced him and co-driver Paulo Fiuza out of the rally.

Words by:Stephen Brunsdon 

Photography by:Red Bull Content Pool