The upcoming 42nd Dakar Rally will be full of changes for the Big Shock Racing team. South America will be replaced by Saudi Arabia, and the team’s Liaz will be replaced by the newly built Iveco. Along with the pilot Martin Macik, who will stand at the start of the legendary race for the eighth time, there will be his loyal navigator Frantisek Tomasek and new mechanic David Svanda in the cabin of the new truck called Charles. Team motorcyclist Jan Brabec experienced one of the harshest times of his life before Dakar. During test rides in Africa in May, he was seriously injured. The accident thwarted his racing plans this season, but he did his best to catch up for Dakar – and he did. Jan is in good shape, back in the game and looks forward to be a part of the famous race for the third time. Another great adventure awaits the Czech racing drivers, but nobody yet knows what it will bring. It is certain, however, that immediately after returning from Saudi Arabia, Macik and Brabec will share their experiences with fans at the talk show Obsessed with Dakar. Martin also wants to use the popularity of the legendary race to raise awareness about respect on our roads. Through the Respect Road project, he reminds drivers that they do not compete on the roads, so they should respect each other and that the most important thing is to get to the destination safe and sound.

Chilling in Charles: music, ski goggles and cameras

When I got into Charles at the last practice session with the fans, I felt really good. I felt like I was sitting in the right place and everything was exactly as it should be. During the races of this season we learnt to work well with the new truck. We want to reach the finish line in Dakar ideally among the Top 5,” Martin Macik reported with laughter. The mechanics of the Big Shock Racing team bet on building a new car. They didn’t rely on anything groundbreaking – all parts on the new Iveco are time-tested and many have been used on Macik’s previous truck. “We’ve been tuning and tweaking the shock absorbers all year round and we managed to get a beautiful result that is very comfortable for the crew. We also worked with the engine to last a lot. For the Dakar cars, the most challenging thing is to balance stable performance, speed, durability and comfort,” the team leader Martin Macik Sr. said. After the Rally du Maroc Charles’ gearbox needed changing, which will be decorated with the starting number 504 on Dakar. The team has been working on some details as well, such as in-cab displays for a perfect overview of the on-board mechanics. “There’s also a speaker in the cabin, so we can play music on transfers, we’ve put in a lot of holders and pockets to keep everything important at hand, we also have ski goggles for when the window falls out, and we’ve installed onboard video cameras that we had promised the fans,” the new mechanic David Svanda reported. In the workshop and at the races, the Big Shock Racing team members spent a lot of days so that everything fits together perfectly. “I would like to thank our wives and little daughters for their patience and tolerance for our entire crew,” the navigator Frantisek Tomasek, who has already managed to test the navigation novelties during the Moroccan rally, concluded.

It’s all a bit funny to Jan Brabec

Jan Brabec considers the period that preceded the Dakar 2020 to be one big joke that someone ‘up there’ sent down on him. In an accident during training in Africa, he broke his leg, thumbs, ribs, he bruised his back and had to undergo several surgeries and then a lengthy and difficult recovery. In the end he managed to overcome all of that and will not miss out on Dakar. His bike number 43, named after his grandmother, Agnes, has been already sent to Saudi Arabia. “It seems that everything is working for me again, but it was hard work. To this day I run two-phase workouts every day. Physiotherapy, gym, pilates, then ride the bike. I continuously increase the speed and let my head get used to racing conditions after the fall experience. I will only get some rest on Christmas,” Jan Brabec, who is preparing for his third Dakar, described. “Every time you have to set a goal for yourself, so this year, I would like to be among the Top 25 and I do not want to get lost,” Brabec said, adding that he is happy about the announced changes in Dakar navigation. “Finally I won’t have to color my roadbook anymore. I hated that. And the saved time will be spent on sleep,” Brabec planned. He will be accompanied by his father Libor and the new mechanic Zdenek Cekr to Saudi Arabia.

I don’t race on the road

Martin Macik decided to use the popularity of Dakar for a good cause. Through the Respect Road project, co-organized by RMD CR, he strives to support Czech drivers, especially truck and lorry drivers, to be more respectful on the roads. “Everyone has the idea that Dakar is dangerous. But it seems to me that driving in normal traffic is much more treacherous lately. I feel that people are increasingly aggressive behind the wheel. I’d like to try and change it. The main impulse was my experience of a mass accident on the D1 and the crazy situation I experienced there, mostly the insensitive and dangerous behavior of drivers who passed us,” Martin Macik described, adding: “In doing so, it would be enough to follow a few basic rules that we all know. Keeping a safe distance, overtaking reasonably, concentrating on driving, anticipating and taking into account others,” he explained and stressed there needs to be better understanding between truck and passenger car drivers.

We call everyone obsessed with Dakar

Immediately after returning from the Dakar 2020, Macik and Brabec will once again meet fans at the Obsessed with Dakar event to share the fresh experiences of the world’s most demanding motorsport race. Martin Macik described how it originated: “Originally, we held lectures on Dakar in the Sedlčany library. When the library wasn’t enough, we moved to the local cinema. But soon even the cinema was too small for the crowd. So, with the help of fans, 8 discussions were organized around the Czech Republic. And so it went on… This year, the ‘Obsessed with Dakar’ was created, we went to Cinestar and it was full again. Over 4,000 people have already been to our lectures.” Even after the Dakar 2020, the Big Shock Racing team will meet with fans at 9 locations all over the Czech Republic and also in Bratislava. The ‘Obsessed with Dakar’ gradually becomes a social event – visitors to interactive talk shows are attracted by Dakar experiences, unpublished videos from the race, behind the scenes information and the peculiar humour of both main presenters.

The Dakar 2020 will start in a few days. Martin Macik and Frantisek Tomasek are leaving for Jeddah on December 28th to heal their traditional cold in time. The second part of the team will arrive in Saudi Arabia on January 1st. The Dakar podium is awaiting the competitors on January 4th and the race will start the following day.