The Dakar Classic is behind us, with Ondra Klymčiw dominating in the Czech colors with his Škoda 130 LR, who drove his last Dakar.
However, the girl duo Barbora Holická / Lucie Engová also left a distinct Czech mark, the girls set off on this demanding track in an old Citroën 2CV, the car was also painted by the artist Josef Rataj.
However, the weak forefoot was fighting with the dunes and deep sand, so the girls had to do it several times with shovels in their hands. In the end, however, they made it, becoming the first crew ever to successfully drive a 2CV to the finish line of the Dakar Rally.
Báro, the Dakar duck caused a stir throughout the country, do people recognize you on the street, do they work with you on this project?
The buzz is nice, I’m glad that the fans enjoyed it, that it attracted people who wouldn’t otherwise watch the Dakar to watch the Dakar. For example, women. But it’s not just a nationwide uproar. Even though I knew the 2CV community was big, I had no idea how huge and global it was. People write to me from South America, Canada, Australia, in short, from all over the world.
And yes, a few people recognized me and asked if I was the one with the duck. Especially at the gas station. Plus, they ask who prepared its atypical design, which is the work of the artist Josef Rataj.
What was the reaction to your car from the other racers at the Dakar Classic?
Such guys from Renault 4 admitted to us that they thought that Lucka and I had just come to show off and take a selfie with a colorful duck at the Dakar, but that they were tipping their hat that we were reaching the finish line.
And for example the guys from Germany – once they helped us and pulled us up onto the dune, then we helped them again with shovels when they fell in again. It can be said that after the first stages the crews started to take us seriously.
Can you remember any really bright moment of the entire Dakar? In short, the best?
Reaching the destination of the last stage. It was only 40 km, but it felt like we were driving forever. I was terribly afraid that I wouldn’t do something, because a significant part of the stage led over large rocks.
When I saw the finish gate, I was overjoyed. And the welcome when we drove through was incredible. Everything fell from me, Lucky and the mechanic Tomáš.
On the contrary, was there any moment or situation that you would describe as the darkest?
Such helplessness when you fall into the sand for the sixth time in a day and you know that you will have to dig and recover the car for an hour. That you will be bothering the clutch until you get to the hard sand.
Or when we fell right after the start and still saw back to the start and knew that this was what was waiting for us all day.
Which of the stages did you enjoy the most?
I think it was the seventh one, the longest one. Although we arrived at her destination at night in the dark, it went perfectly for us there – there was an ideal surface for us, the crossings were timed just right, and it was generally brisk. The Duck drives perfectly in such conditions.
Can you count how many times you and Citroën crashed during the race?
So we probably won’t count it. Many times. In my opinion, we definitely had to reach for the shovels at least once a day every day. Once it looked like it wasn’t, but we drove onto a sand overgrown with grass, which soon turned out to be something like a swamp. So again bailing, pushing, continuing.
Did others help you? Didn’t you and Lucka just have to skip a stage?
In the Classic category, you can skip a stage if you have a technical problem or some other reason, but you will receive a hefty point penalty for doing so. However, we entered each stage, the chief mechanic Tomáš Neruda worked until the morning more than once to prepare the car 100%, we always started on time. We didn’t give up anything in advance, but sometimes they needed help.
In the Dakar, especially in the Classic, mutual help is normal. For example, in the fifth stage, which was probably the most difficult for us, in the soft sand dunes, a group of DAFs, ducks, Mercedes and Porsches formed. We tackled the stage together, kilometer by kilometer until its end, watching over each other. Here and there one of us fell in, so we helped each other. It was like this until midnight, when we finally saw the destination. We reached the bivouac at two in the morning.
How about the stages, passing them and detours in the Dakar Classic?
On the Classic, you have an ideal route marked out, which if you drive, you will stick to the ideal total kilometers and time and not collect penalties. However, it is not forbidden to go around a section or to find a route that your car can handle. You only get penalties for that.
The same if there is a steep hill on the route and the azimuth drives you behind it. You can take it directly by the shortest route or climb it from the side along the contours if you can. It is important not to get lost.
By driving elsewhere, you move away from the ideal time and drive more kilometers, for which you receive penalties. However, in the end, you are glad that you managed and managed, which is the whole point.
For example, at the start of a very demanding marathon stage, the organizer himself came to us and told us that we should go straight to the bivouac in Riyadh. But we didn’t want that and requested an assistance trip (note redaction: i.e. the route taken by support/service vehicles) and we found the marathon bivouac somewhat blindly, where we arrived from the other side than the other crews. And there we learned that some other crews were also looking for alternative routes.
What did Rally Dakar Classic give you and what did it take away? Is there such a thing?
She gave me Lucka, Tomáš and a huge family of ducklings. And that’s the most. And she may have taken the money from me, but I didn’t regret for a second that I borrowed for it.
Will you go around some events or hold lectures or discussions with the duck?
Certainly, we are currently planning a duck welcome and the first big talk, which will be on February 21st, and more will follow immediately after that. We don’t have fixed dates and places yet, we’re adjusting everything on the fly because we’re all back at our jobs. Fans can follow our website Duckar.cz, where the dates will be posted. And we will certainly appear at classic motoring events in the Czech Republic.
What about Dakar 2025? Time to make a decision is running out. Are you going with the duck again or not?
Well, it flies incredibly fast and we haven’t even had time to see Lucka and Tomáš for a moment. But Dakar is definitely something that we enjoy and fulfill, and we will work hard to make sure that we can all return there next year. And maybe even stronger!
The Dakar duck project, or Duckar, thus has a chance to continue and create further sensations. Completing the Dakar certainly gives the competitors a lot of experience and also the desire to return to the place, even though it is an expensive and demanding race. So let’s hope the girls with the duck will return to the Dakar Classic. And even stronger!