“Hooray, we’re here,” Martin Macik announced on Monday morning when the Big Shock! Racing team, together with other Czech competitors, landed in Jeddah, the venue of the 43rd Dakar Rally. The great adventure will start on Saturday, January 2, eagerly awaited by millions of fans around the world. Truck driver Martin Macik is looking forward to his 9th Dakar. He finished in the 5th place twice. He will be supported in the truck cabin by the seasoned navigator Frantisek Tomasek and an experienced mechanic David Svanda, who also took part in the construction of a racing truck called Charles. As for the team boss, Martin Macik, Sr., this will be his 19th participation in the legendary rally. “We are well-prepared; we have done our best to have a solution for all imaginable situations. But at the same time, we have learnt over the years that something unexpected can always happen on the Dakar. And that’s why we enjoy it so much. The strength of the Czechs lies, among other things, in the ability to cope in any situation,” Martin Macik, Sr. said about the preparations. After Saturday’s PCR testing, replacement of a mechanic, night flight and landing in Jeddah, all members of the Big Shock! Racing team are already in the planned quarantine in one of the local hotels. What comes next for the Czech crew? What do they have to deal with before Saturday’s start?

One mechanic replaced. The rest goes according to plan

The departure to Dakar was preceded by mandatory testing of the entire team, which had to take place no later than 48 hours before entering Jeddah. On Saturday morning, all members of the Sedlcany expedition underwent mandatory PCR tests. They were followed by a long wait for the results. The team had several scenarios prepared in case any of the 20 members tested positive. Laboratory results eventually yielded one “positive” verdict. “One of the mechanics and the driver of the accompanying vehicle had to be replaced by Dan Stiblik, who has already completed this year’s races in Poland with us,” Martin Macik reported. The rest of the expedition could head to the airport on Sunday evening.

Flying in good company

A special plane was sent for the Czech participants of the Dakar Rally, which transported them to Saudi Arabia. It was full of familiar faces and a cheerful atmosphere. There was a minor delay after landing in Jeddah. The passengers were released in groups of 15, each fifteen minutes apart, so the passengers spent another 2 hours on the plane after landing. Customs inspections and verification of covid tests from Prague went smoothly. “Everything’s alright. We are glad to be there and we are looking forward to Dakar. In the evening, we will broadcast live for the fans,” the navigator Frantisek Tomasek promised.

What happens after landing in Saudi Arabia?

After arriving in Jeddah, all participants had to enter the planned 48-hour quarantine. “Each team has announced in advance when they arrive and in which hotel they are staying. This is so that the organizers have control over and can prepare everything and communicate with the Saudi government. During the quarantine, we should receive invitations to another set of PCR tests, organized directly by the Dakar organizers in the Royal Stadium, where there will be the bivouac 0 and all the introductory events associated with the start of Dakar will take place,” the Big Shock! Racing manager Martin Pabiska described further development. After testing, the individual teams are taken back to the hotel to wait for the results. Once they receive negative results, the Big Shock! Racing team can take part in the rally. Seven of them will set out to pick up the equipment at the port. The rest of the team will head to the bivouac. The inspections will be different compared to previous years. The accompanying vehicles will undergo accelerated inspections directly in the bivouac, only racing cars will go through the standard process of technical and administrative inspections. “We have the final inspection of the race car scheduled for January 2 at nine o’clock. But before that, we still want to do a shake-down in the desert. We have a designated place about 50 kilometres from the bivouac, where we can check before the race whether our truck Charles is in order after the journey,” the flight mechanic David Svanda added. On the same day in the afternoon, the Dakar Rally will start with an 11-kilometre prologue, which will determine the order at the start of the race. The next day, January 3, the racers will embark on 12 stages of the most demanding rally in the world. Dunes, terrains full of sharp rocks, not much sleep, but instead plenty of adrenaline coursing through their veins awaits them. The Big Shock! Racing team can’t wait for it.

Video about the arrival in Jeddah you can find here.