In the fifth year of the famous Paris-Dakar rally – in 1983 – the first Czechoslovak also appeared at the start. However, Miroslav Kubíček had the Swiss flag next to his name. In 1968, he emigrated with his parents for understandable reasons.
He rode his first race in Dakar in 1983 in the colors of the privateer team Swiss Moto Ball and, as he said in a documentary for TV World of Motors, it was a great adventure from the start. “I was twenty-eight when I coughed in motocross. Young boys came in faster, more predatory and more physically fit, passing us right to left. But the next two years I missed the damn bike, at that time Dakar was clearly on the rise, so I didn’t let myself be convinced for a long time and we went for it.”
As Kubíček repeatedly admitted, he had no idea what was in store for him. And it quickly turned out to be hell. “I had never been to Africa before and the preparation of the bikes and the long stages was something completely different from what I knew. thousands of fans. But in Africa, everything was different. Extremely long stages without help, without food and often without drink. The supplies were led by three support trucks, which nevertheless reached the finish line a little later than the competitors, sometimes not at all.
“It just came to our knowledge at the time. Other teams threw open cans behind the supply cars, so I sat there and ate what was left. I soon found out that if I wanted to have spare parts to repair the bike, I also had to take them myself, because otherwise I might not have them at all. I repaired the flat tires with an adhesive kit and inflated the wheels with a hand pump. One day, for example, I stabbed eight times, I repaired, for example, two kilometers in a row…. I cried so many times and wanted to give up, the psyche and the emotional tension are worse than the ride itself. It was also because we were completely alone there.”
Kubíček studied every step and every kilometer. At that time, riders had no support in the form of GPS, satellite phones and emergency systems, so many times they got lost in the desert and had to sleep wildly there. “I got lost one night, and when I finally admitted it, I just stuck it there, lay down next to the bike, and waited until dawn in the morning. I I was so tired I didn’t know where south and north were on the compass.”
And his KTM? The GS 560 machine had an enlarged and additional tank so that the bike had fifty liters of fuel, a modified suspension, but it certainly could not have been a factory special. In the end, Kubíček reached the finish line with three other teammates and he was in eighteenth place. Given that there were 132 bikers at the start, it was an undoubted success, but Kubíček himself saw it differently. “At the finish line, we swore never to do it again.”
But a month later, everything was different. “We started training, we started preparing motorcycles, we invented various improvers. ‘Our hands hurt terribly on those long stages,” Kubíček recalls. And he tells another story in earnest, this time how they taped their helmets to the handlebars so the wind wouldn’t push them into the motocross plate and hurt themselves too badly behind their necks. .
And this preparation paid off! The following year he was continuously in the top twenty and only lost his position due to technical problems. Nevertheless, he managed to win the last stage at Pink Lake. “I already knew that I wanted to go back. But on my own, because the team just didn’t work the way I wanted. The following season, I started to prepare my own team with a motorbike, a car accompaniment and six other cars that drove me to pieces.”
And it was even a little better, this time he was sixth and he lost four stages against the winner before the end, only twenty minutes. “But then I crashed at the crossing and broke my wrist, collarbone and shoulder blade, I didn’t wake up until the host helicopter landed there. And that was the end.”
Then Kubíček started building cars and finished in tenth place in the Pharaohs Rally, the first particular behind factory cars. Another Dakar also ran, but had to retire due to a technical breakdown. He had a Range Rover, Daihatsu, Fiat or Toyota, he raced with them all over the world, then more for fun. He then took his son to motor racing.
The year 1985, when two Liaz trucks were at the start, can be considered the first official participation of Czechoslovakia in the Dakar Rally. The crew of Moskal, Joklík and Fencl finished 13th, the second Liaz also reached the finish line, but was disqualified because the navigator escaped from the crew during the race. He was afraid they would die in the desert.
A year later, the first Tatra and Karel Loprais joined. Monsieur Dakar, as everyone called him, won the Dakar six times in total. He is one of the legends of the race and the organizers still speak of him with respect. He was able to finish second in the truck category in his first year, but in the penultimate stage he sacrificed his personal success to help others – he pulled cars and trucks from a muddy road. But then he made up for it, six gold medals and nineteen Dakar participations speak for themselves.
The number of Czech participants then increased every year. They experienced robberies (in 1998 bandits attacked two Tatras, stole one), accidents (in 2004, Loprais’s bike fell at a speed of about 100 km / h, and his Tatra made five somersaults, a few years later his nephew Aleš had a brutal accident, where the whole crew and the other driver fell asleep at the level crossing and their truck fell off the cliff), many beautiful and dramatic moments and they have proven over and over that they have to matter.
The Czechs race, they drive as mechanics, members of the accompanying cars, but also as official photographers. This year their participation is still a bit higher, mainly due to the new Dakar Classic class, which in-the-know racers affectionately refer to as “tourists”. And there is also Josef Kalina, 72, who started the Dakar in 1986. .