Truck driver Martin Macik and his navigator Frantisek Tomasek from Big Shock Racing team arrived in Jeddah, the venue of the 42nd Dakar Rally, the legendary long-distance race. ‘The journey went smoothly. We are here, exploring the city, tasting local food, catching-up on sleep and preparing everything we’ll need,’ Martin Macik said. The competitors are going through acclimatization, getting used to the new environment and also taking care of all the necessary organizational matters. Their first steps led to the shop with SIM cards so that they could start broadcasting live entries on Martin Macik’s Facebook page. The other members of the Big Shock Racing team, including motorcyclist Jan Brabec and deck mechanic David Svanda, will arrive on Thursday, January 2.
On a plane to Dakar
As the first ambassadors of the Big Shock Racing team, Martin Macik and navigator Frantisek Tomasek took off from the Ruzyne Airport on Friday. They started the traditional men’s acclimatization, which helps the drivers gain strength before the race and, if needed, deal with the health ailments that often come with the change of climate. This time, however, it seems that apart from Frantisek’s headache, both competitors are in peak condition. The flight was on schedule, Martin and Frantisek took pictures with fans at the airport, talked about the latest news and watched a film onboard, and during a 7-hour stopover in Dubai, they also got some sleep. They had no problems catching the flight to Jeddah, which they slept through, and only woke up at 10 am, in time for the landing. The city, where Dakar will start on January 5, welcomed the Czech drivers with a sunny morning and 27 °C.
Saudi Arabia – a new country with new rules
The Dakar rally has moved from South America to Saudi Arabia. Before their departure, the competitors had to sign a code of conduct that they need to follow while in Saudi Arabia. In it, they consent to not going out in their underwear in public, not jumping the queues, not blasting music at the times of prayer, or to crossing the roads only on the designated crossings. Clothing also has its rules – it cannot include pictures or symbols with offensive or violent motives, men should wear long trousers, women should cover the parts listed in the document. There were about twenty more rules on the list, some of which seemed very interesting to the Czech competitors. When they arrived, the reality was different from what they had been expecting, however. ‘The soldiers at the airport were very friendly, the controls at the airport were more of a formality, and there was no check for alcohol levels,’ Frantisek Tomasek reported. In front of the airport building, the traditional bargaining for the price of a taxi took place, and the taxi driver offered some advice on what tourists are and are not allowed to do in Saudi Arabia. Martin and Frantisek have already managed to walk through the city and have even seen the fountain of King Fahd, quite exceptionally out of order. However, it was nice to find out that English is enough to get by in Jeddah. Our competitors walk through the veiled crowds in their team t-shirts. They even managed to get some organizational matters dealt with. They also got SIM cards and prepared schedules for everything that needs to be done before the start.
It is the time for vehicle hand-over, shake down and stage
Another part of the team will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, January 2. One of them will also be Jan Brabec, who opted for home rest after the long convalescence from his leg injury instead of early acclimatization. The Big Shock Racing’s motorcyclist’s bike will be taken care of by his dad Libor and his new engineer Zdenek Cekr. ‘We are yet to bring new holders for the iritrack holders because there has been a change and the older version had to be modified before the start,’ Jan Brabec explained. Immediately upon arrival, the Big Shock Racing team must pick up all the vehicles waiting in the port and pass the rest of the technical testing that will take place on Thursday and Friday. The mechanics must also check that the racing vehicles are good to go after their long journey on the sea. Before the start, Martin will try out Charles, his Iveco truck, and Jan Brabec will test Agnes, his motorcycle, on a practice track called the shake down. The teams will enjoy the Dakar stage on January 4 and then the most challenging race will start with the first rough stage leading from Jeddah to Al Wajh.