Van den Brink was already introduced to the Dakar Rally in 2019 when he was the youngest participant ever to participate in the desert rally at the age of 16. At the time, he was still the mechanic in the Renault truck driven by his father. Last year he again formed a team together with his father and navigator Wouter de Graaff during the first edition of the desert rally in Saudi Arabia.
Even behind the wheel
In January, the 18-year-old rally driver will get behind the wheel himself and participate as a driver in Le Dakar for the first time during the 2021 edition. In the Middle East he will form a team in the second truck of Mammoet Rallysport, together with co-drivers Richard Sleeve and Wifred Schuurman. With this, he will form the fast assistance of his father Martin, who is again going for a top position in the truck classification with a Renault.
“It’s great that I get this chance,” beams Mitchell. “We drive a Volvo FMX. It’s a solid and reliable truck. We built the car ourselves in Harskamp with the team members of Mammoet Rallysport.”
With 45-year-old sleeve, Van den Brink gets an experienced navigator and mechanic on board who has already driven the Dakar Rally ten times. For the 39-year-old Schuurman it will be his first Dakar participation. “I am very happy with these men. Richard and Wilfred are excellent mechanics. It is important for us to keep the truck in the rally. We act as a backup for my father’s team and bring the necessary parts with us. In addition, it is especially important to make it to the finish, so I can gain experience. Of course we try to stay as close as possible behind the leaders of our team. “
Prior to his first Dakar meters, the young Van den Brink is mainly busy with obtaining the required driving licenses: “After completing my training at the IVA in Driebergen, I used the time to obtain all the necessary driving licenses through Speelziek driving school in Ede. Soon I will have to drive on the motorbike. Furthermore, I have all the papers and I am allowed to drive on a truck, bus and with a trailer. I also obtained my rally license with the Mitsubishi EVO. “
“I now also see how much time it takes for our rally team to function”
“Now I am mainly involved in visiting our sponsors and relations. That is also fun to do. The reactions are sometimes very surprising and above all very nice. I learn a lot from it and try to relieve my father in that way. I now also see how much time it takes for our rally team to function, which is really special. ”
Mammoet Rallysport will travel to Jeddah with 17 team members at the end of December, where the rally will start on January 3. However, due to the corona measures, the teams must adhere to a large number of regulations: “It is really unbelievable how many rules and guidelines we have received. The ASO, as the organizer of the Tour de France, has already gained the necessary experience in organizing a big event in this corona time. “
“We have received an extensive protocol with all the regulations. For example, we have to wear mouth masks in the bivouac, after arrival in Saudi Arabia we have to be in self-isolation for two days and you can only participate if you can show a negative test. the rally has been tested several times and the bivouac is closed to all other people. We cannot and may not receive family or sponsors and relations. We also do not come into contact with people from outside the rally. For example, we have to refuel in the bivouac and from there we also provided the water, for example. The service teams also do not come into contact with the local population. We are in a ‘bubble’. Yes, just like the participants in the Tour de France. “
In the first truck of Mammoet Rallysport, Danïel Kozlovky takes place alongside Martin van den Brink as a mechanic due to the switch from Mitchell van den Brink. Wouter de Graaff will board again as navigator.