Dometic Coolair RTX at the limit: The Africa Eco Race and Dakar Rally


An air-conditioning system that can cope with the worlds most extreme off-road motor races can be trusted to excel when it  matters most. Our tried and tested CoolAir RTX was the choice of two teams competing in the truck category of the Dakar and the African Eco Race. These races are two of the most severe challenges on the calendar.

The races


Described as the one and only true race to Dakar, the Africa Eco Race returned for its 10th edition during the first two weeks of 2018. The 6,500 km route started in Monaco and crossed over to Africa with 5 stages in Morocco, 6 stages in Mauritania and the finishing stage taking place at the infamous ‘Lac Rose’ in Senegal. The African rally involves driving through the Sahara Desert, with temperatures above 30 degrees during the day, falling to below zero at night. It is 12 stages of relentless sandy tracks and dunes.


Covering 9,000 km over two weeks, the famous Dakar Rally is a brutal, challenging adventure attempted in trucks, cars and motorcycles across monstrous sand dunes, salt flats and mountain ranges in temperatures exceeding 55 degrees. Both are marathon tests that place the competitors and their equipment under immense stress, with only the most resilient and well-prepared teams and machines making it to the finish lines intact.

The 2018 Dakar race started on 6th January with the punishing route taking the drivers through South America from Lima, Peru, via Bolivia, and on to Cordoba, Argentina. The longest of the 14 stages was a gruelling 498 km, others involved traversing endless coastal dunes – all with just one rest day. This year, after just three stages, a total of 43 of the 335 starters had been forced to withdraw. Over 330 vehicles started the race, with 55 % completing the course.

“A comfortable working and resting environment in the truck is essential”

In both rallies, success in the truck category requires the complete package of exceptional driving performance, superior equipment, good teamwork and excellent maintenance skills. Everything must work in tandem to safely navigate the multi-1000-kg machines across dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks and erg, while preserving all the structural and supplementary elements of the truck. There will be technical challenges, personal adversity and unforeseen circumstances and obstacles to overcome.

To keep mind and body functioning effectively, the creation of a comfortable working, and resting, environment in the truck is essential. The competitors cope with sleep deprivation, exhaustion and desert heat, so they need to put their trust in an effective air-conditioning unit that will withstand the rally’s thrills and spills. The respite provided by a temperature-controlled cabin is just one of the vital factors that will get the team through the two-week rally.


Team Petronas De Rooy

Team Petronas De Rooy entered two drivers and two IVECO Powerstar trucks in the Africa rally. Gerard De Rooy, team leader, competed in his #400 IVECO Powerstar with his experienced co-pilot Moi Torrallardona and the technical support of mechanic Darek Rodewald. Wuf Van Ginkel, with copilot Erik Kofman and mechanic Bert van Donkelaar competed in the second IVECO Powerstar (#403). Dutchman De Rooy has won the South American Dakar rally twice and the rally in Africa once. Highly experienced in facing these conditions, he and his team also took part in the SilkWay rally and the Morocco Desert Challenge in 2017.

In the Dakar race, Kazakh Artur Ardavichus competed with co-pilot Serge Bruynkens and mechanic Michel Huisman on board his #508 IVECO Powerstar. The newest driver of Team PETRONAS De Rooy IVECO, he made his debut in the Silk Way Rally 2017, finishing in 4th place.

As team leader Gerard De Rooy explained: “The rally in South America in particular exposes man and machine to the severest conditions you can possibly imagine. Within the space of just 24 hours, temperatures can vary from plus 55 degrees to around freezing. And if the outside temperatures are as high as that, the temperature inside the cabin will be ten or fifteen degrees higher again. In Africa, you really notice that winter is on the way. At night, temperatures can fall to a few degrees below zero, while during the day, it’s really not unusual for them to rise to above thirty degrees. But in those types of conditions, you still need to be able to rely on your parking cooler.”

He added: “In the Argentinian section of the Andes, temperatures are sweltering and driving fast is simply impossible. If you drive faster than 80 km/h, you would at least benefit from the wind generated by the movement of your vehicle, but in that particular stage, that isn‘t the case. The air conditioning system is therefore the only thing you have that will help you cope with the situation.”



During the desert rallies, high temperatures in the 40s and 50s outside translate to even warmer conditions inside the truck cabin, with a hot engine pushing the temperature up further. The three people in the truck need relatively cool conditions whenever possible to maintain concentration and focus.

In order to make sure that conditions inside the vehicle stay reasonably cool, De Rooy installs Dometic RTX 2000 air conditioners in the cabin of his IVECO rally trucks. He also has a Dometic cooler in his large camper, in which 12 members of his team spend the night.

“We have used equipment from Dometic for many years now so when the new RTX range was launched, we immediately knew that this was the range for us,” said De Rooy.

Easy to fit into the roof hatch or window of the truck using the specific vehicle adapters, the 2000 W, 24 V RTX 2000 runs quietly and efficiently for up to 6 hours and features a variable speed inverter compressor for boosted performance. Offering similar benefits, the Dometic RTX 1000 has a longer run time of 12 hours for longer trips in more moderate climates.

For all truck drivers and operators, the RTX 2000 and RTX 1000 will keep the cabin cool without the need to leave the engine running for hours, saving money on fuel and benefiting the environment.


„Dometic equipment played a vital part in the 2018 successes by keeping temperatures down for the three people in the cabin“

After maintaining the lead over the trucks throughout the rally, De Rooy won the Africa Eco Race in the truck category, excelling on the fast rocky tracks as well as the extremely soft sands of the dunes. The team also secured 4th and 8th places in Dakar.

He has no doubt that the reliable Dometic equipment played a vital part in the 2018 successes by keeping temperatures down for the three people in the cabin. The three outlet apertures for cool air have been fitted about thirty centimetres away from where the occupants of the cabin are sitting. Tested to the limit in the Dakar rally, the Dometic RTX machines are hermetically sealed and completely maintenance-free.



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