The task for Baja Poland was clear: to finish and, as the only truck in the competition, to win its category – and the crew of Big Shock Racing team (Martin Macik, Frantisek Tomasek and David Svanda) successfully finished. More valuable than the gold trophies, however, was the finding that they were able to outperform most other drivers by ranking as the 11th fastest in the whole race, out of a total of 42 drivers. “Reaching 11th place is not bad, but the most important finding from Baja Poland is that our new truck is driving at an incredible speed. We are getting used to it and it keeps us pleasantly surprising. A few details have yet to be fine-tuned, but we’re doing well. Poland certainly gave us a lot before Dakar,” Martin Macik reported.

Perfect training for the Dakar 2020

For Big Shock Racing team, participation in Baja Poland was another valuable training before Dakar 2020. It was also a test of the latest modifications of the new yellow Iveco truck Charles, constructed in Sedlcany workshops. Charles drove over 500 km in Poland at a very fast pace. “Driving a truck between race cars is an interesting experience. Race cars are smaller and lighter, so in some sections a lot faster. We also had to slightly cut the trees on the track in a few places to even get through with Charles. But we have more power,” Macik said. The crew finally practiced their favorited change of tire. Contrary to the original expectations, Frantisek Tomasek had a lot of work with navigation, that had to send Charles via quite a difficult route full of treacherous crossroads. “I was pleased that I was not only as a number in cabin in Poland. The race was extremely difficult to navigate this time, lots of corners, the tracks were running everywhere, some of the competitors got tangled so much that they were not able to finish the race. We made two mistakes, but we found the way really fast,” navigator Tomasek said. The Dakar atmosphere in Poland was also supported by the hot weather, in which the crew, dressed in non-flammable overalls, tested temperatures above 50 °C in the cabin. A perfect simulation of Dakar conditions was completed by a slight sleep deficit of the team caused by aggressive mosquitoes and a nearby disco. It simulated the noises of night work at Dakar and did not allow most team members to close their eyes before 4 am.

We are tuning Charles

Friday prologue of Baja Poland was mainly a show for the great fans in Poland, who created a beautiful atmosphere. On Saturday, the crews had to cross stages of 2 x 220 km. “Brutally fast and strenuous track full of sharp turns. Gas, brake, holes. The car burned 200 liters of diesel per 100 km because it was driven in deep sand,” Macik explained. In the first Saturday stage, the truck did not have ideally adjusted shock absorbers, and helped to pull out one of the cars trapped in sand. In the second Saturday part, the suspensions were already fine-tuned, but the crew lost 10 minutes by replacing a tire punctured by a tree root. Charles and Martin are still getting used to each other, but their collaboration is better from race to race. “Charles is going well. We are tuning the details. Frantisek pushes for a softer seat to avoid hurting his butt. We still have to work on the shift control and steering, Saturday’s ride physically exhausted me. Wipers also need some adjustments. And the Polish ride also damaged the roof of the truck, because when you drive Charles at 120 kilometres and drive in an hole where a car can hardly fit, it will not be left without consequences,” Macik described.

However, the three team members unanimously agree: “It was great.” and are looking forward to the next race, which will be Rallye du Maroc in October. In the meantime, the pre-sale of tickets for the 2nd edition of Dakar Obsessed talk shows will start. This year, the hopelessly sold out series of talk shows will this time tour 9 cities in the Czech Republic and also make a stop in Slovakia. The latest good news is that Jan Brabec, overcoming the injuries from the tests in the African desert, was able to get back on his Dakar motorbike for the first time since the accident and started training for the next Dakar.