Tomáš Enge to race in Baja Saudi, but with one big change
Less than 2 months after his successful Dakar debut, the only Czech Formula 1 driver in history is preparing for another race in Saudi Arabia – the Sharqiya International Baja 2021, which is a part of the cross-country rally world championship.
The race participants will face two stages, each with specials that will be over 200 kilometres long. “It’s an expansion of the Buggyra Academy programme, that now also has a special Middle East region team to train young drivers and engineers. We’ve all agreed that the debut should not be something small, so Tomáš is going to race against the best ones,” says the head of communication Jan Kalivoda.
Can-Am is somewhere else now
Tomáš Enge, who will be racing for the Buggyra Saudi Arabia team, is not worried about competing with the best. “I’m 100 times better prepared than for Dakar. Because of the COVID situation, most of the test events have been cancelled, so I was just thrown in at the deep end. Sometimes, throughout the race, I almost hit the rock bottom, but it’s completely different now,” said the excited driver, who is now feeling much stronger ahead of the race.“Right after the Dakar, we went to work on the chassis, brakes and shock absorbers. We’ve tested on many different surfaces, we tried dunes, jumping over hurdles, that we suddenly faced and had only a fraction of a second to react.”
And Tomáš also says that the Can-Am has changed a lot in a very short time. “The ride comfort is somewhere else, which is very important. There’s a direct connection between comfort, safety and speed,” he added.
Betting on experience
One thing will change from the Dakar. At Baja Saudi, Tomáš Enge will be joined by an experienced Italian navigator Rudi Briani, who is supposed to be Aliyyah Koloc’s navigator in her debut in 2023. „Dakar is still so much about navigation and it’s very hard to get a really great one,” explained Jan Kalivoda, why the team has decided to hire a man, who took part in six Dakar events. Twice, he was working with a two-time rally world champion Miki Biasion and once with a 1993 Dakar winner Bruno Saby. “You have to count on Rudy’s experience. Also, we’ve seen that Alvaro Leon and Ignacio Casalo are working well together, with Casalo being incredibly good at navigating himself thanks to his previous experience from quad bikes.”
“Rudy seems to be really cool, but that just must be the case considering what he has done over the years. So far so good, but let’s wait and see after the race. I haven’t had an English navigator in my life before,” said Tomáš.
Just doing our jobs…
The team members, who are currently in Saudi Arabia, left just before the last hardening of the lockdown measures in the Czech Republic. “The testing has changed our line-up a bit, but that is happening all the time these days. Hopefully, it is all going to return to normal soon. On other hand, we’re a professional team and life has taught us that it is better to be ready for anything. So, we’re just doing our jobs. But there’s nothing else we could do anyway,” said Tomáš.