I couldn’t believe when I saw the news that Jan de Rooy passed away at the age of 80 today. The beast of Paris-Dakar left us. He is and will always be one of the most iconic rally drivers we have known in the Netherlands. His superiority in the DAF 55 in the 1970s during Dutch rally races, until his last races in Paris-Dakar when he was well in his 60s and still knew how to go fast in trucks in the desert. Legends come and sadly legends also go and today we lost a true legend, which will always be remembered.
Jan de Rooy embodies a generation that is silently leaving us which isn’t fun at all. The generation that was born during or just after the war. The generation that knew how to work hard, and knew, you should never lose hope and keep track on your own goals. My own father was born in 1942 it is also typical for him. It is therefore sad to see this generation leaving this planet for eternity.
The beast of Paris-Dakar was athe reason I started watching Paris-Dakar myself years ago in 2002. Hearing the stories of the DAF Twin II with the double cabins from 1984 to the DAF X1 beast from 1988 when DAF gave de Rooy all equipment and resources needed to be the overall winner. I mean who doesn’t remember the video of Jan passing Ari Vatanen in his Peugeot. A second DAF who was also in the rally crashed badly. It was the reason for DAF to retreat from the Dakar. As well for de Rooy who wouldn’t return until 2002.
It is that year, as I recall, I started to watching Dakar-Paris myself with my father. The reason, Jan and Gerard de Rooy entered together the race both as drivers. Two boys from the region in the desert with trucks made only kilometres from where I live, hack yeah that has to been seen! It was the year I was sold to Paris-Dakar and couldn’t wait to become January. On the first place, I’m born in January, the second because of Dakar. I still believe it is a shame they discontinued racing in 2009 due to the danger that could await them. The move to South America was the worst they could have done.
It is sad, a sad day for the rally fans, a sad day for the Dakar fans, and a sad day for anyone who enjoys autosport. May you rest in peace Dakar legend! We will never forget you!
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