This year, the Rallye du Maroc crews had 2,240 kilometers (1,470 km sharp, 770 km crossings) divided into 5 days. It started with a prologue in Agadir, followed by a crossing to Zagora, and the other stages had their center right here and in the “nearby” city of Merzouga (some 400 km). The routes consisted of extensive dune fields, but also broken rocky terrain, so they tested not only the navigation and speed of the competitors, but also the endurance of the crew and equipment. How did the Czechs do on them?

Martin Macík with navigator František Tomášek and mechanic David Švanda started with the proven Čenda, with which they completed the last Dakar and finished second. On the other hand, Martin Prokop and navigator Viktor Chytka tested the new “TurboShrek” for the first time, i.e. a completely rebuilt special F-150 Raptor, which was converted from a naturally aspirated V8 to a twin-turbo V6. The expectations and successes of the main Czech Dakar stars were largely based on this.

Foto: MM Photography

Macík entered the race with the proven Čenda.

“Chenda seems to have gotten used to the local temperatures, because everything still works perfectly and has withstood everything that was put in its way without any problems,” praised factory truck mechanic David Švanda. Martin Prokop was not always completely satisfied – in the second stage he was troubled by limited power due to an overheated engine, in the third the gas pedal only responded to full pressure, and in the fourth his power steering went out. “These are problems that accompany us now, we have to deal with them somehow. But that’s what test races are for. Otherwise, Shrek rolls great, the pace is kept perfectly with him, it’s a great ride,” concludes Martin Prokop with a smile.

Photo: MP Sports

Prokop was angry with the technician of the new TurboShrek, but that’s just part of testing.

Despite all the problems and despite the fact that Prokop primarily needed to run test kilometers, he definitely rolled with TurboShrek! At the finish it was a great sixth place overall. “The last two stages were brutal. Unfortunately, we did not avoid a big mistake and punctured two tires at once, we lost another time due to technical problems. We need to fine-tune that, but the speed is there, which is a good calling card for the Dakar,” praised Prokop.

Who are we missing here?

Aleš Loprais had a very good footing for the Dakar victory last year… Until the fatal accident that cost the life of a spectator and which he could not have prevented. Unfortunately, he had to withdraw from the race due to the subsequent investigation. However, he is preparing for the Dakar 2024 and is full of energy, but instead of racing hard in Morocco, he chose to run test kilometers. Hopefully he will also be in top form.

Photo: Aleš Loprais

Aleš Loprais drove test kilometers instead of racing.

Macík was even more satisfied at the finish, who was the fastest among the trucks: “We enjoyed the whole competition, everything worked and I’m excited about Čendy.” The joy is only slightly spoiled by the temporary exclusion from the race. During a routine inspection by the FIA, it was found that the size of the restrictor does not correspond to the prescribed rules. “Of course, we filed an appeal because we do not agree with the result of the inspection. The same component without any change in specifications was also checked during the Dakar and was not found to be in any way defective. For us the race is won and now we will just wait for the decision of the independent arbiter to confirm the result. This can take several months,” Macík explains the situation.

Foto: MM Photography

The Moroccan rally is famous for its demanding conditions, as it combines sand dunes with stony fields, all in high temperatures. This will severely test not only the technique, but also the crew.

As a warm-up for the Dakar, the Moroccan rally worked perfectly for both Martins. Prokop revealed all the problems of the new concept with a turbo engine, while Macík confirmed his confidence in the existing technology. What impressions did both fighters have at the finish line?

Martin Prokop: “We tested what we developed over the last year. From the beginning, I got used to the engine, we also tried all possible settings and solved cooling problems, overall the engine got a good run in extreme conditions and we gained a lot of experience. This was exactly what we needed. It showed us where we are stronger and where we have major weaknesses. Overall, it’s a good introduction to the Dakar, that the car is good and just needs to be fine-tuned so that it doesn’t have problems. Then you can think about a nice result.”

Martin Macík: “They were very valuable test kilometers in extremely demanding conditions, both in terms of temperatures and broken terrain. We tested the Chengdu with all the new chassis and cabin dampers and checked how fast we are. I’m still looking for ways to be even faster, but the technology supported us, we could ride the saw from start to finish. Fortunately, there is practically nothing to improve. I just need to work on the physical, and Čenda will undergo a classic disassembly, replacement of all old parts with new ones and assembly again so that it is ready for departure to the Dakar on November 25, combined with a classic farewell to our fans in Sedlčany.”

Dakar 2024 is fast approaching. Everything will start already on January 5, when the competitors will start a two-week long and 5,000-kilometer battle with rivals and the snares of nature. The main Czech stars are, it seems, fully prepared for it, although the MP Sports team is still waiting for a very hot November to fine-tune TurboShrek to top racing form. Fingers crossed and we look forward to seeing you all in Dakar!