I will never forget the prologue of the Dakar last year. The newcomer to the competition, Libor Podmol, burst in just after the first five hundred meters, and when he came back to the bivouac, he said to me: “It hurt. I lay down and I don’t know how, my comb fell off very quickly. First I breathed, then I counted all the bones in my body. And then I looked at the bike and the first thing that came to mind was that it was a shame that there were between 160 and 170 thousand of them. I thought that if I fell more often, my predetermined budget would not be enough. And money is certainly one of the reasons why Podmol is absent from the Dakar this year.
I had written on this subject last year, the article Do you dream of a Dakar? See if you saved enough, it was one of the most read. Maybe because he was very authentic. I would like to experience this adventure firsthand, ideally with a buggy and reconciled with the fact that I just want to get to the finish line. I calculated it at about five million crowns. Yes, to go to Dakar, you have to manage the financial part as well as the technical part, if not better.
But let’s look at the Dakar Rally from the other side. As a profitable business. Do you raise a questioning eyebrow? Let’s start at the top – the ASO organizers don’t just do it for the love of motorsport. It was a constant business, from the very beginning, when Dakar founded Thierry Sabine in 1978. But in recent years, it has become a well-oiled machine. ASO collects money not only from race teams, TV stations for broadcast rights and journalists for accreditation, but also from the host countries. For example, Peru paid $31 million in 2018 to host the Dakar Rally. This amount includes infrastructure and security costs, but also the six million dollars that the ASO received.
Do you find this interesting? So know that when signing the five-year Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, the host country pledged to pay $16 million every year, on top of securing all that. Yes, we are talking about the amount of 350 million crowns. And yes, ASO collects additional money from competitors and all the others already mentioned.
But you can also do business as a racing team. South Racing has eighteen SSVs and lightweight prototypes in the biggest marathon race. They are more or less modified Can-Amys and in the team you will find both experienced riders who go to victory and riders who realize their big dream. “In addition to the racing machines, we have thirty-seven support vehicles here, including nine large trucks, and we are the biggest team in Dakar,” said team boss Scott Abraham.
“Partly we are the Can-Am Factory team and we have four factory teams here, partly we have machines that the riders rent out. These are purpose built Maverick X3 models. They have different and reinforced frames, custom suspension and brakes, Method Race wheels, Tensor tires, body panels are carbon fiber and the windshield is shatterproof. The engine is a Rota, but due to rules restrictions, it has thirty-five horsepower less than the standard version.
“I am also proud that two ambitious female competitors are competing with us, Molly Taylor won the Australian Rally Championship and Mashael Al-Obaidan is the first female competitor born here in Saudi Arabia. Not only are they both good drivers, and Molly Taylor can finish in the top ten, but it’s also great because of the media interest in our team.” as a company that earns him. And Czech fans will certainly be delighted to employ Tomáš as well. Tomeček and his Tatra 815, who leads the race as a fast assistant. Tomeček is in 30th place in the middle of Dakar. “But I’m here for work, not for fun”, laughs Tomecek. “I don’t want to not run before March in Africa at the Africa Eco Race.”
And when we started the trucks… Czech team Big Shock Racing, driven by Martin Macík, fielded five race trucks, eight support trucks and six support cars at the start of this year’s Dakar. “We’re the biggest team among the trucks,” he says proudly. He runs with only one sharp machine, the other was led by Martin Šoltys, who finished in the middle of Dakar, and he takes care of the other three. “Our company MM Technology built three race trucks this year, which we sold and took care of here in Dakar, and then we built a chassis for a truck.” And his father, Martin Macík senior, adds: “We develop research and production. We have built thirteen racing trucks, in six generations in twenty years. And the last one is still in development… “
MM Technology not only has a full-fledged course in Dakar, a total of thirty-seven people, but at the beginning ten people worked in their company, now they are almost thirty and they are hiring more. “We are the only private truck team that develops and builds their cars, so there must be so many of us,” smiled Macík senior. No one, not even the Macs, would be surprised if there were more of them at the next Dakar. Both humans and racing machines. Two racing trucks for foreign crews were built specifically as part of a commercial project, Martin Šoltys, who drove the second racing truck, then contributed sponsorship money to the team’s piggy bank.
Ervín Krajčovič, the boss of the Czech team Orion – Moto Racing Group, which sponsors the departure of Czech motorcyclists in Dakar, chooses a completely different strategy. Martin Michek and Milan Engel pay nothing, they go there like athletes. “I’ve been doing this for years, it works and we’ll see what the future holds. There are factory and private motorcycle teams in Dakar where you can rent a motorcycle or assistance, but we don’t operate that way. We have our sponsors as a team, and thanks to them we can have our riders who I trust and who want us.”
Moreover, Krajčovič won this year’s championship and on his day off he signed a contract to participate in the World Rally Raid 2022, which is the official world championship for long-distance rallies. The first competition is the current Dakar, followed by Abu Dhabi, Kazakhstan, Andalusia and the Rally of Morocco. “Our partner Ivar CS has expressed interest in taking part in this series and the result is that we have one place in the elite class and two places in the lower cup class in five world races. Martin Michek has some participation, Engel l “will add to some races. And other names, they will probably be riders who are preparing for the Dakar.”
MRG runs KG bikes through a dealership, here in Dakar they buy things from the factory with service cards. Based on his participation in the World Championships, Krajčovič wants to establish an even closer cooperation with KTM.
But it can be done in a different way. “You won’t see any other car than Shrek in my team,” says Martin Prokop. “I don’t want my boys to support another machine, another team. We tried it in rallying and it didn’t work. I don’t want to build cars for commercial purposes, I don’t want to do racing. money to nobody, I want it to always be fun for my boys and my team. I earn money at work. Of course, I’m happy to be a sponsor, thanks to the fact that we are part of the team Benzin Orlen, of course we are stronger, but I don’t want to race as a business project, because then the joy disappears.”
As you can see, Dakar can be a business for all players. For riders, for teams and for organisers. It’s about how you approach it. And now the FIA and FIM would like to take a bite of the cake, which is why Dakar has become the first race in the new series of the World Cross-Country Rally Championship.