The Czech victory in the Dakar after 23 years came primarily thanks to the teamwork of Martin Macik Jr., Frantisek Tomasek and David Svanda in the cockpit. The journey towards the golden Bedouin was defined for the entire MM Technology team not only by finishing in top places and a perfectly prepared and serviced truck, but also by dust, hard work and challenging orientation in the terrain, which this year did not treat the competitors kindly.
The first stages of the Dakar were a sharp test not only for pilot Martin Macik Jr., navigator Frantisek Tomasek and mechanic David Svanda, but mainly for Cenda. The unmistakable orange truck, which had its premiere in Saudi Arabia during last year’s edition. Sixth place in the prologue and seventh in the first stage could be described as the calm before the storm. This came in the second stage when the entire grid encountered sand dunes for the first time. Here the perfect chassis tuning of the race special was demonstrated to the fullest. The truck basically flew over the dunes and the MM Technology team scored their first podium finish with third place. “We prepared Cenda really thoroughly for this year’s race. We mainly fine-tuned the chassis, but we also made some other improvements to take the truck to the next level. We didn’t underestimate the training either”, says mechanic David Svanda.
Ups and downs
Next on the agenda was the marathon stage, during which the crews faced difficult conditions. Sleeping in the desert is uncomfortable, but the real obstacle is the limited time of only two hours for service. Stages like this, however, suit the orange trio. Apart from some minor navigational hiccups and some damage to the tyres caused by sharp lava rocks, everything went well and Cenda crossed the finish line in second place. That became first place after a penalty for the stage winner. But a hard clash with the reality of Dakar followed. In the fourth stage, the fighters from Sedlcany failed to pass two waypoints and earned themselves a 30-minute penalty. “I was really cursing myself for this, because we lost a lot of time and had to make up for it. But I dug in and left nothing to chance in the next stages,” says navigator Frantisek Tomasek.
A joyride through a two-day stage
The rules apply to everyone, but the Dakar is long. The loss of half an hour didn’t spoil the mood of the team. Martin Macik Jr., Frantisek Tomasek and David Svanda gave everything in the following stages and managed to close the gap. Then came the specialty of this year’s rally. The two-day Chrono48 took the competitors to the desert in the Empty Quarter area, where they had to drive over 500 km across challenging terrain and sand dunes, during which they had to pass as many bivouacs located along the route as possible in time. If they arrived after the time limit, the bivouac closed, and they could not continue. The teams also had no mechanics available and had to refuel in one of the bivouacs. None of this stopped the joyride of Cenda and the crew, and they won Chrono48 with a lead of almost two hours over the the next team in the standings, which put them in first position in the overall standings as well. “The special stage was definitely a success. Racing-wise it was something different again and we liked it, but it’s true that it was very challenging. It was very demanding for both people and machinery. This is also evidenced by the fact that only nine trucks finished the whole Chrono48”, summarizes his impressions of this year’s novelty pilot Martin Macik Jr.
Staying on top
After a free day in Riyadh, it was time to push hard and stay on top until the end. The terrain gradually changed to rocky and bouldery with occasional plateaus. Machinery was taking a beating across all the categories and Cenda was no exception. But it emerged from the last stages with just bent fenders, occasionally a damaged tyre and a broken windshield, proving its resilience. Thanks to the truck’s perfect mechanical condition, the MM Technology team was holding on to the podium positions until the penultimate stage.
In the last stage, which was one of the shortest in this year’s itinerary, the terrain was again in charge and thanks to one damaged tyre Martin Macik Jr., Frantisek Tomasek and David Svanda finished fourth. However, this did not threaten their overall victory, as they maintained the lead of almost two hours. Thus, at the finish line, celebrations of the first Czech victory at the Dakar in 23 years could begin. “I am proud of the whole team. We worked hard, from the development and preparation of the truck to the guys in the cabin, to the mechanics who serviced not only Cendabut also other vehicles from our workshop during the Dakar. I’m not an emotional person, but I’m smiling now and I’m sure I will be for a while”, says Martin Macik Sr., owner of the MM Technology team.
Smiles were abundant also at Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport, where a large number of fans came to welcome their heroes in orange with banners, flags and chants of ” Macik, Macik!”.