In the first sharp stage of this year’s Dakar leading from Jeddah to Bisha, the Big Shock! Racing team kept pace and after a thrilling fight for the top positions in the truck category, reached the finish line in an excellent 5th place and holds the same position in the overall ranking. The crew managed to be among the 3 fastest trucks for a part of the race. But then they blew a tire and took one off-track turn. Nevertheless, the driver Martin Macik, navigator Frantisek Tomasek and mechanic David Svanda are satisfied with the initial development of the race. Charles, the truck built in the Sedlcany team workshops, goes well on a rough rocky track, withstands a lot of blows and climbs the local hills without any problems. After the first kilometres, the navigator has already Frantisek mastered the new electronic navigation. Martin Macik is starting to take full advantage of the new automatic gearbox.

Rather than making a U-turn in a dead-end, we just kept driving

The Big Shock! Racing team’s truck started from the excellent third position in Sunday’s first stage of the 2021 Dakar. The driver Martin Macik, navigator Frantisek Tomasek and onboard mechanic David Svanda secured this position with their flawless ride in Saturday’s prologue. For the introductory racing stage, they had the advantage of starting in 3-minute intervals. This was a useful benefit on a dusty track covered riverbeds and rocks, where one has to be careful to avoid technical issues. The task was clear; not to get lost, keep Charles safe and to maintain the best possible position in the race. After the nerve-racking development of the race, when the crew of Martin Macik was in the lead for a part of the stage, the yellow Iveco truck reached the finish line as the fifth fastest truck. “It was a pretty diverse stage. We set the pace right at the beginning. For a part of the stage, we were in the lead. But then we punctured a tire. The change took about five minutes. We also came to a dead-end in one of the riverbeds, but rather than turning around, we just kept driving and climbed up the rocks. We went over four hills and got back on the track. There were a few slip-ups, but we are satisfied, we did a good job. It’s the first stage, the truck works great, it’s unbelievable how much it can take. We still have the whole race ahead of us,”Martin Macik reported.

Driving with remote-controlled navigation

The organizers had warned that the first stage of Dakar would be difficult to navigate. They were right. Even before the start, the navigator Frantisek Tomasek was curious how he would get along with the new electronic navigation, which was given to the priority truck crews. The navigator now has a control hooked up to the tablet mounted in front of him in the cabin. He holds it in his hand, uses the buttons to control the navigation and gives the directions. “Eyes, hands and brain used to do things differently. I was used to a paper roadbook, where I looked for the current direction with my eyes, I pointed at the next one with my finger, and I searched for data in the systems on the GPS in front of me. Now I have everything on the tablet, so I have to find out where we are and what’s in front of us. At the same time, I’m pressing 6 buttons with both hands,” Tomasek described. He added that all the worries he’d had about the news before the start have gone: “It’s just a habit. The navigation is legible, it doesn’t shake dramatically and it basically works as it should.”

The Big Shock! Racing team members are still satisfied and also very happy with today’s success of all Czech crews. The mechanics will be checking Charles overnight, but according to the first reports, it seems that no major adjustments will be necessary – only the torn tires will need replacing.