By Peter Kristensen…..
Kees and Jacobine Kamp recently completed the grueling 12 stages of the 2022 Dakar Classic in their 1985 Citroën CX Pallas in mid-January. This was no small feat. They participated in the race, held in Saudi Arabia, with no support team on location, and carried their own tools, spare parts and sleeping gear in the car (over 7,200 km) across dunes, through riverbeds, and navigating rough roads. Fellow racers cheered them on every evening as they rolled into the bivouac camp after the stages.
While the 36-year-old, front-wheel drive car with a 2.0-liter carbureted engine did well, it wasn’t without challenges, and luckily local mechanics or fellow racers gave a helping hand when needed. The CX Rally Team came in 125 out of 128 participants in the classic car category.
Upon their return to Holland, I connected with Kees and Jacobine to ask a few questions:
The photos of your beautiful classic CX Rally car in the stark desert setting are amazing and will go in the Citroën history books. What was the most positive and memorable moment of the race for you?
Kees and Jacobine: We had many, many positive and memorable moments, some of our favorites were crossing the big sand dunes at high speed, and the best, sometimes passing much more powerful 4×4 cars that had gotten stuck in the sand. On the mechanical side of things, our success in finding a solution to make the half-broken clutch work again, after we at Stage 10 were almost ready to call it quits. Meeting the legendary Jacky Ickx who won the Le Mans six times and many other races AND drove the Citroën CX in the 1981 Dakar Rally (although without finishing). Jacky signed the hood of our Rally CX! Otherwise, the landscapes were spectacular, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets were plentiful, and we also experienced sandstorms, and even some rain! But most of all, it was the personal connections and camaraderie among competitors. Every night as we came in (almost last), we were met with cheers and thumbs-up’s from professional competitors, support crews, and the Dakar Rally organization.
Clearly, competing in the race required a lot of physical stamina and mental strength to get the car through the many difficult passages, and doing it as a married couple could be challenging for some. Were there any moments of despair, where you thought to yourself “this is not going to work”?
Kees and Jacobine: Well, not really! We actually make a good team. We have done quite a lot of traveling together, including covering many challenging roads in Europe and Africa since we got married in 1993. We have a good sense of our limits. We did make mistakes but we had a clear goal of wanting to cross the finish line and were able to keep going! Like any couple will know, navigation faults or momentarily choosing a wrong track created stressful situations. But really, nothing that couldn’t be resolved without a good laugh afterwards. We had full trust we’d succeed in our old CX and were probably the only two people (except for Jacky Ickx) in the whole “Dakar circus” who believed that we and the CX could actually reach the finish line. I’d like to believe that a lot of people in the world now think differently about just how incredibly reliable and capable the Citroën CX is!
In one of the videoblogs you are seen digging the CX out of sand stuck in the pitch dark, I think with a broken clutch too. What were you thinking at that moment?
Kees and Jacobine: You are right, when our clutch wasn’t working, we were also stuck in the sand and were all alone and it was getting dark. We were also running out of fuel. We did think to ourselves that maybe this was the end of our Dakar adventure. We recognized that we couldn’t fix the clutch ourselves. In the dark, we made the CX move using the start motor while also pushing the car, hoping it would get traction on the sand ladders and get enough momentum to move on, but the sand was way too soft. In the end we used the emergency system required by the organizers, which includes the Iritrack (real-time monitoring of positions and tracking of competitors). The organizers showed up shortly after and towed us a short distance to the paved road, and from there we completed the last 3 km of the stage.
You were evidently very well prepared for the race, otherwise you would not have been able to complete it. All the details are described in your blog on www.cxafrica.weebly.com. In retrospect, would you have done anything differently to prepare?
Kees and Jacobine: For sure, there are always things to learn. In retrospect, we should have had a strong (aluminum or Kevlar) protective plate under the whole body of the car. The tracks in the Saudi Arabia desert are much rockier compared to the tracks we have experienced driving in the Sahara. We used winter tires with stronger grip, but next time, we’d need to have much stronger tires. And the standard exhaust, which broke three times, should have been left at home, and instead we should have had some custom exhaust. However, we had fun driving with a broken and noisy muffler, which gave an extra sense of rallying!
Your participation in the 2022 Dakar Classic had a charitable purpose, namely, to raise funds for the Bright Future for Children to go towards school improvements in Senegal. Did you reach your fundraising goal, and can people still donate in support of your mission?
Kees and Jacobine: We’d like to thank everyone for their generous donations. We raised €13,000, which is a little short of our goal of €20,000. We are still open for donations and hope that our stories and videos will continue to attract more support. Please donate via our website at www.cxafrica.weebly.com/sponsoring. The school we are supporting in Senegal trains students in skills that prepare them to work in a particular field such as carpentry, electrics, and more.
You are now in the CX Rally Hall of Fame with Jean-Paul Luc, Patrick Lapie, and Jacky Ickx and your CX has an extra layer of patina, congratulations! You were absolutely ‘living the dream’ of many, including myself. Do you have any ideas for your next project?
Kees and Jacobine: Thank you very much! When we go get our CX in Marseille, France, we will need to take a very close look of the underside of the car. We expect it to be in reasonable shape as the steering and brakes were operating normally and the doors still closed correctly . Assuming the car does not have any major issues after the rough race, believe it or not, we’d actually love to participate in the Dakar Classic again. For this, we’d need to find a couple of good sponsors, because it is actually really expensive to participate. We hope that our completing the rally this year will give comfort to a sponsor to join our next adventure. In addition, we are registered for the Atlantic Pacific Ocean Drive (APOD), which is a 15,000 km rally from Hamburg, Germany, to Vladivostok, Russia. We registered in 2020 but due to the pandemic it was cancelled. With some luck, we may take off for that in 2022!”
You can see more photos and videos from Kees and Jacobine in the 2022 Dakar Classic on social media #CX.Dakar.rallyteam and their website: www.cxafrica.weebly.com. Their accomplishment is yet more proof of the outstanding engineering of the Citroën CX car with its self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension and self-centering DIRAVI steering. It is truly amazing that the CX, which served so many as their executive limousine back in the 70’s and 80’s, has the capability to participate in one of most grueling races today.
Kees and Jacobine’s 2022 Dakar Classic in numbers:
Watch this 2-1/2 minute video clip of their adventure: