He finished second last year and knows very well what everyone wants and expects from him. In short, the first place in the Dakar is the biggest goal for him, but at the same time he is very well aware of how long the road to victory is and how fragile even a ten-ton truck can be.

Foto: MM Photography

Macík is extremely satisfied with the technique. He says he’s never driven a truck that fast before.

He subordinates everything to the preparation for the Dakar. He drives fans in a sharp racing machine on the tracks in the Sedlčanská Kotlina or in the Hummer Center in Prague, drives in private tests, drives races in Poland, Spain and Africa, and spends a lot of time on the simulator. “I drove a thousand kilometers in Sedlčanská kotlina alone last year, and the same in the Hummer center. It was over four thousand kilometers in Morocco, eight thousand was the last Dakar… Racing is simply the best training, but the events for the fans are also great, it’s not only fun for me, but also for them and their entourage.” And if they drive fast with them? “Yes, I’m driving. They have a helmet, they’re covered and I’m going full speed.”

Testing and racing even outside of Dakar keeps him in shape and at the same time he has great technique, which has been picked up by all the flies in the MM Technology workshops.

Čenda works perfectly, Macík is only slowed down by defects

“I am extremely satisfied. So far we haven’t fixed anything here at Dakar, luckily. We’ve always been stopped only by punctures and they follow me, it’s always the driver’s fault,” Macík shrugs. “Fortunately, we can change even the 150-kilogram wheel relatively quickly, and then we can continue. I was rather annoyed by the fact that I don’t even really know if and how I could have prevented it. It always just hissed and that was it, but once our wheel overheated, maybe after some kind of blow, and rather than risk it tearing and damaging the truck, we had better replace it.”

At the same time, all the defects came at the beginning of the stage, which does not exactly give you confidence. His truck carries two spares and he could easily have more, but he doesn’t want to. “It’s a lot of extra kilos. When I do one rubber, I’ll slow down a bit and maybe not send it completely sideways somewhere. If there are two, then everything is different and I won’t allow myself to take any risks.”

Foto: MM Photography

Changing a tire is hard work for a few minutes on a truck, because even with the wheel it weighs 150 kilos. They train it regularly at Macík.

As can be seen, the on-board mechanic can monitor temperatures and tire pressure directly while driving, and can also continuously change the pressures. “It takes about five hundred meters to blow out the tires, for example, in front of the dunes, it takes a little longer, maybe a kilometer, to inflate them. We drive at 2.5 bar pressure on the sand, four bar on the rocks.”

And if it is possible to drive a truck on an empty wheel? Yes, but only a few kilometers. In one stage, Nasser Al-Attiyah drove his BRX on the rim for the last thirty kilometers, but Macík wouldn’t risk that with the truck. “You would risk destroying the rim first, then the drum, but also the half-axle and the differential.”

We lost our way, we took a risk and got not one penalty, but two

In the fourth stage, the fans were horrified when, even before crossing the finish line, a penalty of almost thirty-three minutes appeared on his time. “We are lost. This year’s Dakar is extremely dusty and we reached a place where there were a lot of cars and motorbikes, we couldn’t see anything for a while, we had to stop. We were supposed to pass a point and we didn’t know where it was. We drove up to the plateau, looked around and saw where the dust was and where it continued. So we immediately made the decision to purposefully omit that point. But a moment later it turned out that we were missing not one, but two.”

To understand this, when the navigator receives the itinerary ten minutes before the start of the stage, he can see in it not only where he should go, but also how many waypoints are waiting for him. And for each point, a possible time penalty for its minute is also written. It is then up to the crew if they will return when he has minutes, if they will look for him and thus waste time, or if they prefer to accept the penalty. “It has to be a quick decision and it depends on a lot of things. And it’s not just about time, but also about the fact that there is a risk of an accident in some terrain, that you fall somewhere, that you roll somewhere or that you calmly collide with someone in the opposite direction. Although the sentinel is automatically activated and you know that someone is coming towards you, you simply cannot see him and he cannot see you in the dust.”

At this year’s Dakar, Tomáš Ouředníček already had a similar head-on collision with his Toyota, but Nasser Al-Attiyah could have fared much worse.

However, Macík has no doubts that even with a loss he can fight for the overall victory. “Stage 48 Chrono is a big unknown for everyone and a lot of things can change in it. And then we’ll go back, because realistically we’re not even halfway through the Dakar yet. Fans must be excited as there is a fight in every category. It will be about three of us in the trucks, i.e. van Kasteren, Loprais and I, but it will certainly be a good show and anything can change at any time. I got a penalty yesterday, the two of them were repairing today…”

I would be interested in the comparison with kamaz. We’re going as fast as ever

When he talks, you can clearly see the passion and enthusiasm. Racing subordinates everything. He enjoys not only the time on the track, but also the preparation of the trucks, time in the workshop. “It’s my life. And I’m very glad that my hobby is my job. We have a total of four trucks here that we take care of, we are building more. We had to suspend work on our electric truck, but I will have a new machine for next season and this one already has suitors, we are negotiating with three teams. We are extremely satisfied with this.”

Foto: MM Photography

“We still have more than half of the Dakar to go, fans across categories must be excited.”

His current truck has undergone modifications to the chassis, so it is not as comfortable as before and it hurts to drive more, but it is faster. “You can drive a terrible fire with it, there are stages when, despite the speed limits, we are faster than cars and motorbikes. We’ve never gone, never been able to go, as fast as this year. I don’t think it could go any faster.’

And it is this feeling that gives him self-confidence, which is why he said in one of the interviews before Dakar that he would be interested in the current comparison with the Russian Kamaz. “Even when they were driving, we were the only ones who managed to wedge ourselves between them. It wasn’t enough to beat them, let’s be honest with ourselves, but we were able to overtake them in some stages. And when I see how fast we can and can be now, I would simply be interested in a direct comparison.”

You can count on Martin Macík to push in the next Dakar stages. “I have to. This is no time for heroism.’