It’s Wednesday morning. It was all over on Friday, we had a spectacular welcome at the airport and at home. Press releases, meetings with fans, first days at work. But also a visit to the barber, lice removal and flea removal, endless time in a hot shower or bath. And rest. Lots of rest.

But also a strange void in the soul. Where are the friends? Where is the adventure? Why aren’t we all together at dinner in the exact sitting order? Why isn’t he going anywhere tomorrow? With a bit of exaggeration, I reply that war veterans know their stuff. As if it suddenly evaporated somewhere. But at the same time you are still full of it.

All regular Dakar participants agree that this year’s edition was the most difficult in Saudi Arabia and that it was quite possibly more difficult than those that were run in South America. They’re taking stock of the damage, treating the wounds, but they’re also already thinking about what to do next.

So… what next?

The three best Czechs, the three Martins, just sigh tiredly. Everyone knows that to succeed is one thing, to defend is another.

Photo: Garáž.cz

Martin Prokop took a dreamy fifth place in the car category at the Dakar.

Prokop took a fantastic fifth place in tough competition from the factory teams, where only Audi, Toyota, Prodrive and Ford fielded more than twenty cars. He thereby improved his previous maximum, became (again) the fastest privateer and demonstrated that even a small team with a much smaller budget can achieve great things. “If we hadn’t taken the fifty minutes in the first stage…” resonates in the heads of all team members.

“But if you don’t play,” Ivan Matoušek, the team’s engineer, resolutely cuts off this contemplation. While watching the timer, he calculated all the possible variants and he knows best that: “If it was a game of ifs, anyone could win it. Of course we do. But it wasn’t like that. So let’s see how it will be next year. What can we do better? Because next year will be tough as hell – Audi will leave the competition, but all Toyotas will have turbocharged engines, Ford will have at least two, but more like three brand new cars, and Dacia will also be added. So the competition will be higher again.”

Prokop’s Shrek is an eight-year-old car that is undergoing constant development. It ran great with the new engine. But its size is as limiting as the possibilities for further improvement. Building a new car in Jihlava in parallel and continuing to compete both in marathon competitions and in selected WRC events is logistically and financially almost impossible. “We’ll sit down, see, discuss it,” says Matoušek. “But I know one thing for sure, Martin promised us all that he would never race in trucks.”

Foto: MM Technology

Martin Macík drove for his dream victory.

Martin Macík, the winner of the truck category, will arrive at Dakar 2025 with a new truck and the desire to defend his victory. If he and everyone around him do everything as well as they have been, there is a high probability that he could do it. In the workshops of MM Technology, the new machine is slowly starting to be built, which will be the evolution of the existing Ivec. It will have an improved cabin, but quite possibly also several setup options depending on whether it will be racing in the dunes, in the rocks, or on fast tracks. “I’m looking forward to it, nobody currently has a better truck than us,” says Martin Macík Sr., team leader and chief designer.

And Martin Macík reflects the attacks that if Kamaz had also raced, that everything would have been different. Here, too, it is true that you don’t play it safe. “We gave such a performance that it is not possible to give much better performances. We would certainly be competitive against them. But it would depend on where they moved the technology, how the new rules would limit them,” he said at his press conference. “It was said that Kamaz has a new car every day at the Dakar. No, they just knew how to build it and how to service it. Now the roles meet quite a bit and I think it would be an interesting showdown. Who knows, maybe it will happen to us sometime in the future.”

In any case, no one from the Czech Republic has the Dakar as their business like this stable from Sedlčany. They build machines for competition, build accompanying trucks, devote themselves fully to marketing and their shows. “I want to take care of the Dakar brand in the Czech Republic,” Macík junior is clear.

Photo: MRG

With the tenth place, Martin Michek equaled his maximum and once again shone in the most occupied category at the Dakar.

The third Martin, this time biker Michek, managed to finish tenth again this year, among bikers, where there is the greatest competition, but also the risk. “A result that I would have taken with all ten before the Dakar. But now I’m thinking that if…” But he doesn’t make excuses for this word either. “I want to keep racing. I want to continue to prepare well and I want to pass on my experience to other, younger riders. If I could manage to spend more time on the Dakar bike somewhere in the desert and rocks, it would be to the benefit of the cause. I will continue to work, I will continue to struggle, we will try to be even stronger and improve the top ten,” he says forcefully.

Which of the Czechs will (probably) not return to the Dakar?

It was fashionable after returning from Dakar to say never again. However, this rule is changing, and even though everyone is tired and often drained not only of physical and mental strength, but also of money, they want to race again. But some say straight away that this year was really the last time.

Photo: Libor Podmol

They sewed his eyebrows right on the track, this was a futile attempt to see him at least a little in the following days.

Libor Podmol not only drove the fans crazy with his heroic performance, but also cast a spell over Caster, the head of the Dakar, who gave him a special award during the competition for his courage in not giving up after a nasty fall. He was sore, could only see in one eye because of the monocle, had a sprained wrist, slept little, finished the competition without a second gear.

It was his second completed Dakar after 2021, when he finished 31st. But racing and the desire for a crate in the Original by Motul class, i.e. motorcycles without assistance, turned into a fight for survival.

“During those fortnights my body was as sore as ever. Riding without assistance is completely different, racing is pushed to the back burner, the most important thing is to get to the finish line and prepare yourself and the bike. In the bivouac, I didn’t even keep up with the various briefings, I didn’t deal with navigation or information about the following day. I just did the important things,” he told me at the airport upon departure. And he also admitted that it might be the last time. “I promised my son that I would finish it, that I would finish. But I’m not really sure I want to go through it all again. Actually, I don’t see any reason for that. I’ve learned a lot about myself again, I have a lot of material for another book, but I’m not sure I want to try it all again,” he says honestly.

Photo: Dakar

This year, too, they traveled across the whole of Saudi Arabia, the competitors covered over eight thousand kilometers, of which almost five thousand were sharp.

And Jaroslav Valtr, who raced with a truck this year, will probably not go next year either, but still wants to leave his racing ambitions to his sons. “I don’t know if they will both go. But I know that I will support them as much as possible.”

Michal Ernst, the navigator of Karel Trněný, made his debut at the Dakar. An experienced rally navigator, he learned as he went, Viktor Chytka was a source of experience for him. “But this is nothing for me. It’s terribly long, it’s different from a rally and it’s driven according to a schedule that someone else wrote. It was a great experience, but I don’t think I want to experience it again.’

Dakar is very dope

But most Czechs want to return to the Dakar. And they will do their best for it. Because the Dakar Rally is something like a drug.

Of course, you can’t compare the feelings of the competitors with my feelings, because I’m only riding as a journalist, as a support team member, and every mechanic, physiotherapist or chef has a bigger share in the success of their teams than I do, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel as one of them. And that I really enjoy Dakar and everything around it.

Thanks for letting me be there. I still have materials for a few more articles and I want to record the final podcast for the 1000 horses channel, this time of course with Martin Prokop and Viktor Chytka.

And if I go again in a year? It’s not just up to me, but I definitely want to. And I will continue to live my dream that maybe someday, one day…