Six-time Dakar Rally winner is glad to be ‘just driving’
Just like Martin Koloc, the team principal of Buggyra Racing, said in his Dakar Rally interview, there are fewer professional navigators than drivers.
Their work is much more than just reading a map. It is also about mentally leading the driver, a specific communication, huge time gains and losses. “A good navigator can specify a danger with precision to 100 metres. A professional like Alvaro Leon, who was working with Ignacio Casale, can do it in just 10 metres,” says Martin Koloc.
And the six-time Dakar Rally winner Josef Macháček agrees. Just like Ignacio Casale, he also learned a lot about navigation as he spent many years in a quad bike category. He and Casale have 8 Dakar victories combined, with Josef also having a Bedouin winning trophy from a T3 category. “This year, it was completely different. Last year, we still had a normal paper itinerary, like a book, while this year, we had two tablets – the main one, and the reserve one. And then also a controller held by a navigator, who must precisely press buttons,” explains the Dakar veteran. “The display shows how much distance you’ve travelled, under what angle you’re currently driving, which is important in dunes, and there is also a distance between the start and the finish. The navigator also has a pause button for special events, like, for example, when helping another crew.” And this electronic roadbook also helps to communicate with organisers, but that should be used only in emergencies when the crew does not expect to continue any further. And when it comes to compulsory equipment, vehicles also must feature a camera that checks crews for not using any disallowed electronic devices.
It must be said that for drivers, one of the most popular new features is a special device that checks driving under an angle. “It also shows when we’re closing on a specific waypoint, so the navigator doesn’t have to count every meter. We also have cruise control and a maximum speed limiter, so we don’t have to be worried about going full throttle. And there’s also a device for communication between the drivers,” says Josef Macháček. “Yet, I’m really glad that I’ve made a switch from quad bikes to light prototypes and the only thing I have to care about is just driving.”