Okay, no kidding now. And no sirloin. The nervousness could already be cut. A while ago I was thinking about how we could stand the wait in quarantine when there was covid. When I’m writing these lines, it’s early in the morning before the prologue, I’ll finish it after it. I hope you don’t mind too much.

Photo: Jan Červenka

Prokop brings his own chef to most of his races. Well-being in the team also depends on the performances of Libor Vaňek.

We’re starting day four, but it’s dragging on. We’ve had accreditations, a day and a half of testing, a ride in Shrek, written this along with a few other articles, and now we’re all anxiously waiting to see how the first round goes. Because it is the results of the prologue that will affect the start of the race. Until tomorrow’s stage, the first ten cars will start, they will have a luxurious three-minute distance between them. This means that they will not get dusty, that they will be clearly visible, and that the track will not be ground like a track for beavers. Those who finish in the prologue from tenth to twentieth places already have two minutes. And it’s only one minute to thirty. “That’s not enough. And from the thirties onwards, they only have half a minute between them, and you don’t want to experience that anymore,” says Ivan Matoušek, Prokop’s engineer.

But he is reluctant to predict how much Prokop will finish. “It could be the fifth or the twenty-fifth. He will pull, he will drive, but everyone will pull.”

Photo: Orlen Jipocar ​​Team

On the way to the start of the prologue.

Now we all know that he finished in ninth place, which is a great achievement. “This wasn’t a warm-up, this was a ride. Difficult terrain, navigation for one hundred, two hundred, three hundred meters,” says Viktor Chytka. “But whether it’s good or bad remains to be seen. According to everything, the order of the first ten will rotate, so we will quite possibly go second and open the entire track, we will paint tracks for the others,” adds Prokop. And Chytka? “On the one hand, it’s great because there won’t be any false tracks. On the other hand, we won’t have anything to catch and there will be no room for error. But in the prologue there was no time or desire for any tactics, we just drove. In short, you don’t want to take risks there.’

There is a message on the organizers’ website that by Saturday’s stage, when 414 sharp kilometers await the competitors, the first ten cars and trucks should start in the order determined by the drivers themselves. The fastest crews should vote first. “So for us it’s the same as if it turned around. We’ll just go second,” adds Prokop.

Photo: Moto Racing Group

If anyone surprised at the prologue, it was Dušan Drdaj, who finished in the top thirty and was the fastest rookie.

Like him, the other Czech crews had no desire to use tactics. Martin Michek, our best motorcyclist, took eleventh place, but you already know all that. Loprais second, Macík sixth after a minor navigation error.

However, do you know what technical acceptances entail? To my surprise, I raced myself, but it was on circuits. Everything is a little different here, and there are also differences between cars, motorcycles and trucks. I consider it a matter of course that pilots and navigators in cars, trucks and buggies must have homologated helmets, HANS, fireproof overalls and a set of underwear including a hood, as well as fireproof shoes and gloves.

All you need on a motorcycle is a homologated helmet and an airbag. An airbag vest to be exact. “An absolutely great thing that saves lives not only at the Dakar,” says Ervin Krajčovič, head of the Czech MRG team. “Each rider wears a vest that inflates in the event of an impact. He already knows the force of the impact, now they are also reliable, for me it’s just a great thing. And it’s not a one-time thing, so when you pull yourself together and find that you can continue, the vest just deflates, you put in a new canister of compressed air and you’re good to go.”

As for the technique itself, the regulations are clearly given. For example, in the T1+ class, the technical regulations are not as strict as it might seem. They relate to the engine, the width of the car, but then a lot of things are individual and the FIA ​​just has to approve them. The safety regulations, i.e. the homologation of seats, belts, frames and more, on the other hand, are very strict.

Foto: MM Technology

Martin Macík is driving his twelfth Dakar. Two of them left as a navigator, the rest as a pilot.

The ideal situation is when the organizers see the technology ahead, then technical acceptances become more of a formality. On the other hand, at any time during the race, the race organizers and the FIA ​​can check, i.e. weigh or remeasure, the technique. Any violation of the rules was then dealt with individually, but it would most likely mean disqualification, depending on the severity of the offense, of course. Now that I’m writing this, I’m thinking that maybe it’s a good topic for a podcast or a stand-alone article. And I remind you that you can also write what you would like to read about, just contribute to the discussion under the article.

So what’s next? We’ve already had candlenut squash and potato pancakes, pancakes too. Libor Vaněk, our chef, once again created a lot of sensational dishes. But tomorrow morning the pioneer camp here in Al Ula will end for us. The entire caravan moves to the next bivouac, waiting for the service facility for 439 kilometers on the roads and highways of Saudi Arabia. The next day it will be 572 kilometers and then 634 kilometers.

And it’s not just about the kilometers. In the first half of the competition, the competitors not only have a forty-eight-hour stage, i.e. a big unknown for everyone, but also one service shortened to just two hours. Which, of course, also affects us, the escort. But more about that next time. Now I have to pour – I have an appointment with Loprais. Like many of you, I was also afraid that they would wrap it up after last year’s innocent (!) tragic accident…