Big Shock! Racing team’s driver Martin Macik with navigator Frantisek Tomasek, mechanic David Svanda, and a new truck named Arnold are currently leading in the truck category at the Rally du Maroc. After the prologue and three stages, they have covered over 1,000 kilometres in challenging terrain full of sand dunes and treacherous stones – and the new special is doing well. Although the crew has to deal with some minor bugs in each stage, it steadily sets the pace for the truck category. “It’s a beautiful competition. It’s very useful being here because it’s a lot of valuable kilometres of practice for Dakar,” the driver Martin Macik said after finishing the first half of the race.
Arnold’s baptism by fire
The new Dakar truck is not built for a slow start and Martin Macik is definitely not going easy on Arnold at the Rally du Maroc. The Iveco Powerstar special, developed by the team boss Martin Macik, Sr. with the MM Technology team and completed just a few days before leaving for Morocco, has already achieved a lot in his short life. After moving from the Czech Republic to hot Morocco, it went through the technical inspections without any problems and then immediately jumped into a sharp racing pace. The Big Shock! Racing team did great in the introductory 10-km-prologue, and they got in the lead. “So far, I’m pleasantly surprised at how Arnold works. Temperatures are higher here than at the Dakar, over 40 degrees in the shade. The new truck drives incredibly. It’s fast, accurate, and it’s doing well. However, we’re aware that the real competition in full gear comes only in Saudi Arabia,” Martin Macik reported after the prologue.
1st stage and manual inflation of tires in the dunes
The real test came in the first stage, which had 288 kilometres. The hard, jumpy, gravelly track and beautiful dunes gave the drivers a chance to test their limits. Arnold showed some of his potential weaknesses. “We’ll work on the chassis. We made it harder than we planned. It was quite painful in the cabin today. The tire inflation system also needs some improvements. It bailed on us just before the dunes, so we dove in at one point,” the mechanic David Svanda described, adding there were – luckily – no major problems. The crew stopped and had to deflate the tires a bit by hand. Then they drove through the dune part of the stage, at the end of which they inflated the tires. After that, the yellow truck went straight towards the finish line. For the first time, they were able to test the time it takes them to change a tire – Arnold has different storage for spare tires than its predecessor, Charles. Despite the demanding terrain and racing mode, the Sedlcany group managed the change in 4.5 minutes. And then, they were the second fastest team in the finish of the second half of the first stage.
Unexpected victory in the second stage
After the mechanics’ night shift, the Big Shock! Racing team started the second stage, which was more challenging than many Dakar rallies. It had 333 kilometres with one neutralization. The crew enjoyed about 40 kilometres of beautiful, vast, and difficult dunes. It took the crew several attempts to conquer some of them by finding the best way through. At about the 100th kilometre, the truck began to struggle, had slower starts and the crew could not get over 120 km/h. “Despite that, we managed to overcome everything and won the stage. The competition was busy changing tires,” the navigator Frantisek Tomasek commented. He also praised the improved navigation, which led him flawlessly to the finish line.
The incredible pace of the third stage brought the fastest time and a curious flaw
“So far, this was the most difficult and longest stage of the Rally du Maroc, 341 kilometre-long, very hard, the truck jumped up and down, but it was also a technical stage, so we liked that. We did very well. We went the first 100 kilometres at an incredible pace, it was absolutely wonderful,” Martin Macik described. It turned out that the lower performance in the second stage was caused by one of the coolers, which again caused trouble in the third stage. “Nevertheless, we enjoyed it today, no one was breathing down our neck. The navigation was working, and we got in the lead,” the happy Frantisek Tomasek reported. The leader in the poll for Arnold’s most curious defect so far is the defective car lock that imprisoned Martin Macik in the cabin. With the first half of the rally over, it seems that despite several weaknesses that can be easily improved, Arnold has a decent form and leaves the other trucks behind in most stages.
However, the race ends at the last finish line. Rallye du Maroc has two more challenging days to go. Although the competition is not entirely comparable to the Dakar in the truck category, 5 trucks take part in the Rallye and the Big Shock! Racing team gains valuable experience in Morocco. The crews get to the bivouac almost every night after dark. The drivers are already very achy all over. The mechanics also deserve appreciation, as they take over the specials at night to hand them over in the best possible condition in the morning. The teams will reach the finish line of the Rallye du Maroc on Wednesday evening.