Fans of the Dakar Rally are coming alive because Czech competitors are already in Saudi Arabia and the first Dakar bivouac by the sea is starting to fill up quickly. Everyone is looking forward to New Year’s Eve Saturday when the prologue of the 45th edition of the legendary long-distance race starts. Pilot Martin Macik, navigator Frantisek Tomasek and on-board mechanic David Svanda, accompanied by seasoned members of the MM Technology team, started preparations immediately after arriving in Yanbu on Wednesday. They picked up their new racing truck Cenda, which travelled to Dakar via ship, as well as other rally and accompanying vehicles from the port, moved to the bivouac and got to work. In the two days remaining until the start of Dakar 2023, there are still a couple of things to be done. What awaits the competitors and their teams?
Cenda arrived in good shape
A plane full of Czech Dakar riders landed smoothly at Yanbu airport on Wednesday. “During the flight it was a little twitchy. We were probably slightly overloaded as everyone carries spare parts with them,” laughed Martin Macik after landing. The first concern of the team from Sedlcany was in what condition did Cenda, their new racing truck, survive the voyage. That is why, immediately after handling the most necessary organizational matters, they headed to the port to pick up and check their special truck and other racing and accompanying vehicles. “Everything seems fine at first glance. Some cars had depleted batteries and we had to repair damaged paddles under the steering wheel of one of the client’s trucks,” reported mechanic David Svanda. The caravan from Sedlcany, along with all the equipment and machinery, then headed to the first Dakar camp which is located on the coast – about 100 km north of Yanbu. The Macik’s group will share the bivouac with other teams who are running special rally trucks built by the team of Martin Macik Sr., the head of MM Technology – Project 2030, Italtrans Racing and Fireman Dakarteam. “Altogether it’s 20 cars and 52 people so we are gradually getting here. Some vehicles needed to refuel on the way and some of the guys were taken by bus. We are, little by little, moving everything to one place and while we are waiting for the assistance truck to arrive, we are beginning to build stuff. The administrative matters await us tomorrow at 8 a.m. and then we can have a shakedown until 6 p.m.,” explained Martin Macik.
The new special truck will carry a tried and tested line-up
Although the MM Technology team will use a new rally truck in the upcoming Dakar the crew has remained the same for several years. Pilot Martin Macik will experience his 11th Dakar start. He completed the first two years as a navigator, but he was firmly holding the steering wheel during the later years. He placed 4th in 2021 and he also has several stage wins under his belt. “This time the plan is simple. We will try to ride sensibly, keep a solid pace from the start and keep a cool head. We certainly don’t want to push the truck more than necessary. The rally will be two stages longer, the day off is moving to the second half, we will have a marathon stage in difficult dunes too. All of this will be reflected in the condition of the vehicles and crews,” says Martin Macik. Navigator Frantisek Tomasek will be the one giving directions in the orange truck. For the eighth time. “When I remember how I started, there is a certain progress. Honestly, during the first Dakar, I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that we had to collect points. But when something happened, I had no idea how to deal with it. Now I have set up some guidelines on how to proceed when we get lost. Or when the organizer wants us to get lost and sets a navigation trap for us. The main thing is to keep calm and find your way again,” says Frantisek Tomasek. The crew will get technical support on the track by mechanic David Svanda. “I think I have trained quite well for the Dakar all year. Before we have sent the machinery here, I was assembling our truck. Over the course of this year, I’ve done so much work on various vehicles that I already have a lot of things covered and under control,” says David Svanda.
The mechanics will now have a lot on their hands because they still have to check all the vehicles in detail before the start. And the special rally machinery will also pass the technical scrutineering of the organizers. The crews will then find out if everything works as it should during shakedown. On Saturday the competitors will wave to the fans from the ceremonial podium and then head into the prologue immediately after that. The prologue will determine the starting order for the first stage that launches another big Dakar adventure on 1st January.