Two previous stage victories of the private Sedlcany Big Shock! Racing team have confirmed that a well-organized group of die-hards, the ability to cope under any circumstances and experience of the 19 previous Dakar rallies have a chance to beat factory crews with incomparably larger facilities and higher budgets. In today’s, eleventh stage, Martin Macik, Frantisek Tomasek and David Svanda, did well again. Although they had to deal with a lot of unexpected situations on the track, they moved to the 4th place in the overall ranking after finishing the stage in the 6th place. The brakes of their truck, Charles, stopped working and gradually, other technical issues came up. But the truck still managed to reach the finish line in good enough time to continue in the race, which brought joy to the whole team.
It was a little Dakar on its own, nerve-racking until the last minute, but we’re happy!
Although Thursday’s was one of the most challenging stages in all Dakar, the crew of the Big Shock! Racing team set off full of strength and vigour. The special stage was shortened from the original 511 to 464 kilometres because part of the route had been flooded. Nevertheless, the crews could still look forward to a decent portion of a demanding and very tough track. Stones, rocks, and at the end a little variety in the form of more than 100 kilometres of size 2 and 3 dunes. It was clear to most that this would be the day that decides much of the final results of this year’s Dakar. The yellow truck set the pace again in the first third of the special stage. But then a few stones complicated the crew’s ride. “It was nerve-racking, but we’re happy. Anyway, one of the most difficult stages, a little Dakar on its own. On neutralization, we found out that somewhere in the riverbed, a stone smashed our sensor on the differential as well as an oil screw. We repaired that and continued. Then a tire burst, so we changed it. We rushed to the dunes, which were brutal, strangely shaped, full of rocks. The brake hose tore, so we couldn’t brake. As we surfed the dunes without brakes. As a result, we stayed in the third gear for the remaining forty kilometres. But, here we are, at the finish, and we are 4th overall. The mechanics have once again a lot of work to do, and they have my utmost respect,” Martin Macik reported.
It still stands that we do not push our luck too much – we want to get to the finish safe and sound
Servicing Charles, the truck that the mechanics of the Big Shock! Racing team built themselves in the Sedlcany workshops is going to take up most of the night, but it will be the last one. The mechanics know that in the morning, they will hand over the vehicle to the crew with a clear conscience. “Full throttle! We’ll try to catch up on the leading crews in front of us. At the same time, however, it still stands that we drive with our heads, too, we do not push our luck too much. We want to all get to the finish safe and sound,” Martin Macik said. His crew tried out opening the stage for the first time this year. “It’s useful that you start two minutes apart, but there are still passenger cars and motorcycles in front of you that keep blowing dust on you so you have to overtake them. At the same time, there are no tire tracks in front of you, so you need to navigate more,” Frantisek Tomasek added. The mechanic David Svanda has probably the biggest sleep deficit of the entire crew, and also a sore finger from constantly inflating tires. “I’m pressuring Martin’s tires more so we don’t blow a tire on the way. Then, of course, it’s a hard, bumpy ride, but we can handle it, Charles usually does, too, and we don’t make unnecessary stops,” the on-board mechanic Svanda laughed. Nevertheless, the crew continues to enjoy the race and is happy with the track. The organizers delivered on their promises of a difficult Dakar, and it suits the Czech crew. “The track is great. It is extremely demanding, hard, sometimes fast, sometimes technical. In each stage, there is a variety of surfaces, to which you have to adapt your driving style. You do the best you can, and you just keep driving as best as you can,” Macik concluded.