Big Shock! Racing’s Martin Macik still holds the first overall position, with Kees Koolenafter close second, after four racing days of the Rallye du Maroc. Both drivers have trucks from MM Technology from Sedlcany. At the same time, Macik’s crew continues to successfully test the limits of a new racing special named Cenda. They have already managed to overcome many unexpected situations together. So far, the extremely demanding race offered a perfect warm-up not only to Cenda, but also to his crew, which is experiencing certain moments for the very first time, yet still can solve them on the spot. They courageously fought (and won over) flat tires, lost tools, insidious dunes, and navigational tricks. The mechanics of the MM Technology team, after several hard night shifts of finding and fixing the weak points of the new truck, can finally relax a little. The team is gradually getting an idea of what the new truck built for the 2023 Dakar can do. And they are starting to feel happy about what they have learned so far… Two more stages are left before the end of the rally.
A won prologue, lost tools and bumps in the head
The mechanics of the MM Technology team worked on Macik’s new truck until the very last moment before the start of the Rallye du Maroc on Saturday (October 1). They needed to fix a few bugs, which they finally did. Still, there was tense anticipation within the team. However, as soon as the crew, which in addition to the driver Martin Macik consists of navigator Frantisek Tomasek and mechanic David Svanda, set out on the track, there was no doubt that the gas pedal would be floored and that Cenda would have a good time. The opening circuit around Agadir was through sand and a series of very narrow passages. The truck from Sedlcany was the fastest at the finish line. “We couldn’t understeer because we had rubble and roots under the wheels, and branches peeking out from above. In the end, however, we reached the finish line and won by 12 seconds,” Macik said after overcoming the initial 9 sharp kilometres, which ensured the crew the first starting position for the following day.
The Sunday’s first stage, consisting of 322 sharp and another 240 connecting kilometres, helped test the capabilities of the new truck and its crew. The track was challenging from the very beginning, there was some wandering and some fixing. The team from Sedlcany experienced a situation that does not happen often on race tracks. “When I was getting a rag in the back of the car to wipe the oil off my hands, I didn’t close the box. It was open throughout the entire stage. As we passed the checkpoint, I saw my dad frantically waving at us. We also waved at him and continued on. It was only later that we found out that things were gradually falling out of the box behind us. I laugh about it now, but it wasn’t pleasant, you can lose spare parts, tools, important things,” Martin Macik described, adding that the Big Shock! Racing team’s truck reached the finish line second and was only 57 seconds slower than the stage winner. “We have reached the destination and we are full of impressions. It was a Dakar track with everything. We punctured two tires, something fell off here and there. I also found that my seat moves with every jump or bump in a way it makes me hit my head. Just before I left for Morocco, I saw a documentary about how neurons die when you hit your head. So I think I will have about five of them left after this ride,” the navigator Frantisek Tomasek laughed after the stage.
A stage won and dunes you do not want to get stuck in
The MM Technology mechanics also spent the night before the second stage with tools in hand. But the night’s hard work paid off. Macik’s Cenda was the first to hit the track and was the first to reach the finish line. The track that day was fast and technical with difficult navigation, ending with unpleasant, soft dunes. “We flew like a lightning bolt – 316 km in 3 hours and 33 minutes. We kept it to 140 km/h on the plains. There was a lot of rubble and rocks everywhere that rip your tires to shreds. We prayed ours would make it to the finish line. Towards the end, we had to drive through heavy, soft, fluffy dunes – a gradual approach and parachute down, followed by a hard blow. At times we barely managed to climb up, we lost a lot of time there. But Cenda persevered, he’s fine, everything is good. I am very happy,” Martin Macik described the stage at the finish line. The navigator, Frantisek Tomasek, who perfectly mastered the navigation intricacies of the stage, confirmed his words: “Mates held it well today. And Cenda did well, too. We overcame a dune field marked as level 2. It was only 10 kilometres long, but we were afraid that we could get stuck there. We climbed up and failed and had to do it three, four more times. Kudos to all who made it over. But today was great, we didn’t have to get out of the car at all. Everything is working, it’s 44 degrees in the cabin and we’re enjoying it.” At the finish line, the crew also hoped that they had spared the car a little this time and that their mechanics would finally – after several sleepless nights – get some rest.
Running out of tires
Tuesday’s Stage 3 brought another “first” for the crew. This time, after an adventurous ride, they finished in second place – without a single working tire. “When the first tire blew, we changed it. The second one tore so that the entire tread pattern came off and tore off the siding. So we replaced it. And then we blew the third tire. But we had no spares left. So we put back the one that had completely peeled off before. We cut the remains of the tread pattern off with sandpaper. And we crept towards the goal at a creeping pace. At a speed of about 60 km per hour. But we managed to continue, and that’s the main thing. We’re at the finish line,” the navigator Frantisek Tomasek reported, adding that before running out of tires, their truck, Cenda, was competing nicely with Gert Huzing. The advantage of today’s stage is that, apart from the tires, the truck seems to be in a good shape, so the mechanics will probably only have to take care of cosmetic adjustments.
Martin Macik is currently defending the leading position in the truck category. But the Rallye du Maroc continues. The crews still have two final stages ahead of them. They will reach the final finish line on Thursday, October 6.