Already at the last Dakar, the crew of Martin Prokop and Viktor Chytka joked that they would stick the slogan “When I can, I’ll help” on their car. Then one day they dragged Loeb to the bivouac, before which de Villiers had thanked them for their help. And for that, they received a beautiful fair play award from the organizers, which decorates Prokop’s office.
But there were more similar moments, even in South America, Prokop helped Cyril Despres right on the track, even though he knew very well that it would cost him fifth place overall. “To this day, both Mates and Quirin blame me,” he laughs. However, Ivan Matoušek (Mates, team engineer), Quirin Müller (manager) and even Martin Prokop do not blame their mechanics when they help somewhere for a change. On the contrary. And although this group of heartthrobs has no fair play award in the workshop, they deserve it more than anyone else.
Spirit of Dakar? Excellent advertising slogan!
Just so you know, slogans like “The spirit of Dakar” or “We don’t run a race, we run a shared dream” are nice and certainly look good on social networks, but if you think that the racers gather around a common fire in the evening or that they help each other with repairs directly on the track or they stop when someone gets stuck in the sand, maybe in the middle or at the end of the starting field, but definitely not with the top teams, where every second is being fought for. To be completely honest, they are only built in accidents where the competitors are sure that the organizers will give them back the time. The pressure to get results is simply extreme.
“If we overtake an opponent in front of us, who gets stuck in the sand, for example, we will not stop. Well, I certainly don’t and I would forbid Martin to do it,” says navigator Viktor Chytka resolutely. “There is simply no time for such gestures in the top twenty. And I’m sure it wouldn’t even stop a fast truck.”
However, it looks a little different in the service. People from M-Sport were researching Shrek last year and asking about everything possible, gathering information for building their own special. I witnessed how Ivan Matoušek went to Prodriv when his mechanics found out that they didn’t have Teflon centering shock absorber bushings.
“It’s just different in the service. Most big teams are closed professional bubbles where everyone has everything, but there are situations where we simply help each other, because one day it’s them, the next it can be us,” says Ivan Matoušek. Although it probably won’t happen that Audi helps Toyota and Prodrive, for example, but despite all the professionalism, MP Sports is treated here as a private team, where there is not even a clash between sponsors.
Normal service for Shrek, then repair the crashed opponent’s car
And Beruška, Pípa, Dodo, Puči and Tonda are fighters who have already shown many times that they are not afraid of work and can pull it off elsewhere. The last time was at the finish line of the third stage, when all teams were only allowed a two-hour service and then the competitors went to sleep in a joint bivouac in the desert.
“Mišák Ernst, Karel Trněný’s passenger, came to say that things weren’t going well for them, so Lukasz Cieszko took a computer to go check it out,” Tonda Susa tells me the next day. “We had already finished, everything was packed, I had already changed into clean clothes, with the view that it was some six hundred kilometers to the bivouac and that we would be there sometime after midnight. And suddenly my phone beeped and I saw a photo on it that they were worried about more than just a loss of power. They had the whole car rolled, because they were going through the shed. And then Honza Doležal runs, saying he’s going to get a bass with tools, that we’re going to help them. So I put on my work shorts and a T-shirt again, picked up my jacket and went too.”
In the end, it became another concert performance. Karel Trněný’s Ford Raptor got a new windshield, they fixed his fenders and rear end, did a basic service and they were done in a little over an hour. “Quirin was already telling the boys off that they had to go, but they were in service mode where everyone knew what to do and what was needed. Completely in the loop,” Petr Vejvoda tells me the next day.
The mechanics arrived at the bivouac at three in the morning. They got up at nine, set up the service tents, set up their things, fixed the back wheel on the truck, cleaned up their things, and then pounced on Shrek as he came off the stage. “Fortunately, we are only doing routine service work, Martin and Viki save us,” says chief mechanic Petr Brynda with a typical smile.
And that comfort is always there in MP Sports. After a day without a crossing, each member of the accompanying caravan faces over 500 kilometers and then, after the 48-hour stage, 850 kilometers to the big service halfway through the competition. “It will probably be a rush there, we will do a lot of things there. But that’s already a classic, that’s what we’re here for,” Brynda smiles again.
So hopefully the mechanics’ smiles will last. And maybe there will be a price for fair play. They deserve it!