Monday’s eighth stage, the second part of the marathon stage, was for the Big Shock! Racing team so far the biggest challenge of this year’s Dakar. Nevertheless, the driver Martin Macik, navigator Frantisek Tomasek and mechanic David Svanda defended the 5th overall position when they finished the stage in the 8th place. After yesterday’s arrival at the marathon bivouac, where the crews had to do without their assistance, the Sedlcany team found out that they had more work than originally expected. In addition to the steering linkage, the rear differential, axles and brakes also underwent some necessary servicing. Therefore, Martin Macik’s crew was somewhat tense at the start of the eighth stage. Right at the beginning, it turned out that the truck kept jumping to the side during braking. There was some more trouble, however, the crew eventually managed to overcome them and the result at the finish came as a pleasant surprise.
When the mechanics are off
What happened after arriving at yesterday’s marathon bivouac in Sakaka? The crew of the Big Shock! Racing team quickly settled in the large tent and immediately got to work. Charles, their racing truck, underwent a thorough inspection. “We focused on the steering linkage, which was troublesome in the previous stage. We disassembled and reassembled the parts to make sure they were in working condition, tuned the entire geometry of the front axle settings, repaired a torn bolt on the rear differential that caused a slight oil leak, changed tires…,” the on-board mechanic David Svanda listed. Already there in the bivouac, a suspicion arose that the brakes were not in ideal condition. But the possibilities for repairs were limited. Therefore, the main plan for the second part of the marathon stage of 334 connecting and 375 racing kilometres was to take the foot off the accelerator, not take unnecessary risks and get Charles to the bivouac in Neom in one place.
Whenever I hit the brakes, the car would jump to the right
However, dark scenarios were confirmed on the track at the beginning of the stage. It turned out that the brakes did not work optimally. “Right at the beginning of the stage, we found out that the right front wheel brakes more than the left. Whenever I hit the brakes, the car would jump to the right. So, we took a few trips up in the air again, one was particularly bad. But we caught up on lost time, overtaking one buggy after another and trying to be in the bivouac as soon as possible. We were also delayed at one checkpoint, which we kept searching for about 15 minutes. But that was not all. About 40 kilometres before the finish, we bent another steering linkage on a dune. As soon as hit the brakes, the wheels went into a V-shape, dug into the sand and the steering linkage was bent again. So, we drove the last 40 kilometres with the wheels spread,” Martin Macik described after arriving at the finish. There, a well-coordinated group of mechanics was waiting for Charles, ready for a long night’s work. No one doubts that Charles will be like new again tomorrow morning. “The time loss is not too big, which is great after all that happened. We’ll push a bit harder again tomorrow. Charles will be in top shape and we will drive the way we like it again,“ the navigator Frantisek Tomasek concluded.