He accomplished what he set out to do, what his dad had started twenty-two years ago. Twenty-three years later, he brought gold from the Dakar to the Czech Republic, and at the time we are talking, he still has no idea how many fans will be waiting for him and other Czech competitors at the airport in Prague. “There will only be a few people there, I’m guessing that the main ones will come, then they’ll come to the square in Sedlčany and the Obsessed with Dakar talks,” he tells me. So now it’s just an event for fans? “Not quite. They and media duties will now take up most of my time for a few days, but I will also normally go to the office at the factory, and we also have the two cafes where I want to know what and how. We have a new manager there now. The woman said she was handy, so maybe I’ll just check it out.’
I’m deliberately writing this out of order so that you know how wide Macík is and what he can do. Some people look forward to the couch after Dakar, others to the mountains, but he to work. “I enjoy my work. Already on Sunday morning, after the last stage, I was working. Now I’m going to stop working hard in the gym for a few days and weeks and instead focus on my recovery to put myself back together, but I’m definitely not planning on going to the Maldives for a fortnight.”
And he also plans to throw a party for his team. “We have known most of the people who were here with us at the Dakar for years, it is their victory as much as ours. We know each other’s likes, what they like, how they smell, what they can do… Well, it’s just one big group and it definitely wouldn’t be possible without them. So there will be a celebration as well.”
He’s laughing, he’s in a good mood. Not to either. At the Dakar, he was already second, seventh, fourth, fifth… “I knew that I would win it one day, I just wanted it and did everything for it, but when we started this year, I thought to myself: ‘Damn it, why so are we wandering? And yet another defect?’ It’s not my nature to give up, and on the Dakar you can experience anything and at any time, you’re not sure of anything until the last moment, it’s a damn long race after all, but the pressure before the race and then the first half of the competition, which didn’t go quite as we expected, of course it was harder than when you ride a wave.’
But the wave came. In the endless huge dunes of Pustá končina, the fourth largest desert in the world, where the mountains of sand are up to two hundred meters high, Macík and his crew won the dreaded 48h Chrono stage with a lead of 1 hour and 10 minutes. “It was a terribly difficult stage, and when I saw what we had achieved and how the competition was struggling, I felt relieved in a way,” recalls Macík.
In the end, only nine trucks crossed the finish line of the stage, the rest gave up even at the cost of huge penalties. In the truck class, there were over forty trucks at the start of this year, but only ten of them were sharp machines, the rest served as escorts. “That’s how it’s always been at Dakar. But now the escort simply didn’t stand a chance, and it was so difficult even for the racing trucks that it was torn apart a lot.”
Obsessed with Dakar 2024
If you want to hear the experiences of the “golden” Dakar first hand, Martin Macík jr. together with his navigator František Tomášek and mechanic David Švanda are going on a tour of the Czech Republic with their talk show Posedlí Dakar! Don’t delay in buying tickets, they are almost sold out.
So could it not happen that, just as some stages are run differently for motorbikes and cars, that the organizers could also include others for trucks? “I don’t think so at all. Passenger cars have experienced a huge boom in recent years, with the entry of factory teams, both the rules and the technology have changed, and what T1+ category cars can pass was completely unthinkable before. Those small buggies benefit from their light weight and maneuverability. And now the trucks will also have to adapt.”
Which is good news for Macík and his dad, because their company MM Technology develops and builds racing trucks not only for themselves, but also for other racers. “We actually treat ourselves like a factory team, we are fed by it, we do it professionally. We will now sell our winning truck, which I drove for two seasons, because the machine is already being prepared for the next Dakar.” And how will his new truck be different? “We have a list of partial minor adjustments, but it won’t be anything major. We already have a machine that is fast and, above all, reliable. We will focus on small changes in the cabin, so that it is better to sit there, so that everything is better controlled, but also to make it nicer. During the entire Dakar, we got out of the cabin only because of punctures, a huge thank you goes to dad and the mechanics, what an amazing piece of equipment they prepared for us. So the new truck will be basically similar, just newer and more modern.”
But then he adds that they are planning changes to the chassis. “It’s a thing I want very much. So far we have two setups, but we only drive one anyway. And my idea is that there should be more setting options, depending on where you go. So one way into the dunes, another way into the rocks, so that you can always go full speed, always fast and there were no unnecessary compromises.’
They only ran two sets of shocks and they changed an extra one due to damage, they changed the brakes twice. “I have never braked as much as this year at any Dakar. In the second half of the competition, I got to know the car even more, and if the Dakar was even longer, I would go even faster.”
And just for fun… How many horses does it have, how much does it drive and how much does it eat? “In ideal temperatures and conditions, we have 1,100 hp and 5,000 Nm. Consumption depends on the difficulty of the terrain, if we are climbing somewhere or driving on rocks, maybe even two hundred liters per hundred kilometers. And that speed is clearly given – the trucks go at a maximum of 140 km/h.” Anyway, hats off to the overall placing of Macík’s crew – at the finish line, they were in eighteenth place in the overall order of all cars with a time of 54 hours and 34 minutes. Just for comparison, the fifth Prokop had a total time of 50 hours and 32 minutes after twelve stages, while the victorious Sainz swallowed all those sharp kilometers in 48 hours and 15 minutes.
I can’t help but wonder how a race truck like this is sold and how much it even costs. “People know us, so they just send you an email, call you, or come and ask directly at the races. And then it depends on what their ideas are, what exactly they want. A new racing machine costs over half a million euros, a used one costs around three hundred thousand. And then, of course, it’s about whether they just want to buy the truck, or they want to race with our support, or whether they’re interested in a rental form. The Čenda (that’s what the Macík people call the winning machine) already had two or three interested parties before the Dakar.”
In the truck category, you can see that, just like with cars or motorcycles, success is not just about the machine, the crew and the team, but that it all has to come together. And that technology has made enormous progress in recent years.
“You could see it with Kamaz – whoever wanted to race with them had to get close to them, play their game. To think that you can win the Dakar if you don’t race otherwise for the whole year, if you put a refurbished but structurally old truck at the start, it just doesn’t work. The chance of winning is lower. We drove as fast this year as never before, it hurt us in the cabin, but the technology held up. And if you want to have a good place at the start the next day, you simply have to finish well in each stage. The start depends on how you finish the day before, and when you’re behind, you have to overtake slower cars, motorbikes and buggies a lot, but then it gets dusty, you can’t do it, the track is broken, and that’s how you pick up the loss again.”
Thanks to the Macíks and their company, the field of trucks will most likely grow, but they also have demand for trucks that drive as sharp assistance. “They are trucks that drive in a race, but as support for cars or buggies or motorcycles. They have to carry a lot, they have to be robust, but at the same time they have to travel the race route to be useful to their teams. And the twenty, twenty-five year old cars simply have a problem with that. The only chance is that you adapt to it, which is of course good news for us as a manufacturer. And that will help the competition not only in the Dakar, but also in all long-distance competitions.”
Martin Macík sees racing and business as a full-fledged business. But he is also thinking about the future. We talk about the fact that he would like to take a ride with a racing Octavia, for example in Most, on the circuit, just for fun and for the experience, but also to sort out the best way to nurture other talents.
“We don’t quite have an academy in the team, that would be a very pompous word, but two young drivers who are getting their spurs in rallycross, where Roman Častoral is taking care of them for us. And then I can imagine them in the truck. Or in a buggy, because we got representation for Can-Am, which I drove myself last year and I was excited about it.”
As you can see, Macík is really not bored. And he obviously doesn’t have that planned for the next few months and years either. He finally won the dream Dakar trophy. Now it will be about how many times he manages to defend her. He certainly does not lack taste and determination!