VIDEO: Fortune favours the brave, for now!
The first half of the 2022 Dakar Rally is over. Those who have survived until now – the drivers and their vehicles – are now preparing for the battle for everything, including two entrants of the Buggyra team. Now comes the perfect time to look back at the most important events so far, as seen by the team principal Martin Koloc. “It could be better, but also worse. As they say, fortune favours the brave. We’ve handled all critical situations we’ve had so far, which shows that we’re ready,” said Martin at the beginning of his interview with Jan Kalivoda, the head of communications at Buggyra.
Pedal to the floor
He is the only person in the Czech motorsport who knows how it tastes to win in a truck circuit racing championship as a driver, a team boss, and a designer. And whose driver, Josef Macháček, took a Bedouin winning trophy back to the Czech Republic last year. He started the interview by speaking about the pace in the Trucks category. “Last January, we spoke about being on the very limit. But that’s not the case. Kamaz, Iveco, or even Aleš, they are doing so well. On the other hand, this pace costs something, so let’s wait and see about the other half,” adds Martin, who is very inspired by how the Kamaz – Master team works. “It’s a great force. It’s pretty much a Russian national team that works together like a one-man show. Apart from Shibalov, they’re all Dakar winners. For preparations, they do their own competition – Silk Way Rally. They have exceptional financial backing as well. The reality is that one kilometre of testing costs between 30 and 40 Euros. Chagin’s boys do hundreds of thousands of kilometres, which is like sci-fi for a private team.” Meanwhile, according to Martin, the second half of the competition is going to copy the last year. “Russians have a huge gap and a clear favourite. They’re going to back off slightly and control the pace. Maybe, they’ll be even willing to let someone else get on the podium.”
Youngsters take the front
In the light prototypes category, Martin Koloc praises especially Seth Quintero, who has been unbeatable apart from one stage so far. “Once, he got caught out by a technical thing, but what he’s doing here is incredible. Also, he’s just 19 years old. The OT3 category sometimes struggle with reliability, and last year, we were able to utilise that,” says Martin, who also thinks that the new rules are favouring strong teams. “This category is starting to prioritize Red Bulls. Soon, they might be dominating just like the Kamaz team. Let’s wait and see.”
And as Martin adds, it could be also the perfect entry point for the young generation into the cross country. “Next year, Aliyyah and Yasmeen will be racing at Dakar. And just as Rally Hail showed, we’ve got great basics.”
When it comes to the reigning champion Josef Macháček, Martin Koloc considers his presence in the TOP 10 as a success. “Even though we wanted to be better, it’s not over yet. We’re also racing against a competition of 50 vehicles from strong teams with factory backing. Josef is consistent, reliable, but also, while you can have as many championship titles and experience as you want, you also need reflexes and commitment. And you can’t stop ageing. Anyway, he’s doing a great job. Three years ago, he has decided to join forces on what at first looked like a crazy project, and it turned into a victory. Nobody expected that and many people still feel bitter about it.”
Beginning of revolution in communication
In the next part of the interview between Jan Kalivoda and Martin Koloc, the topic moved onto communication. “The A.S.O. organisers have massively improved their social media outputs. We’re at the beginning of a revolution in communication and it’s going to develop even further. Social media is getting more and more important, and everyone has a choice about how to communicate. The typical role of television is starting to disappear, as people don’t want to watch something they’re not interested in.”
Our own path
And the fans were mentioned as well. Martin Koloc sends his thanks to everyone, and he admits that he appreciates support – not just from the Czech Republic, but from all over the world. “Of course, they’re very important to us. I know some of the fans from when I began racing. I really appreciate that, and I don’t agree that someone needs to be a fan just because they’re Czech and then when something goes wrong, which is common in our world, it’s about scapegoating. I don’t think that being a fan means sharing boundless love and hate. I’m grateful for the fans, but it’s not like we must please all of them. We have our own path, and if they want to accept it, it’s great, if not, I don’t have a problem with that.”
In the future, the team plans to communicate in English even more. Right now, the team employs around 500 people around the world, and only 10% to 15% speak Czech. “English is the main language in motorsport. We have our bases in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, and France. On the other hand, there’s a new generation of fans growing up in the Czech Republic, who realise that English is necessary to succeed in life.”
Navigator over gold
Martin Koloc also mentioned Ignacio Casale, who will be starting into Sunday’s stage without any ambitions to succeed in the overall standings. “He’s a real professional. A great person, and my friend. He’s going to risk a lot, while also testing components for 2023. He’s pretty much in the same situation as Quintero. Also, Šikola and Alvaro Leon are doing a great job. Actually, professional navigators are becoming a rare breed these days, even more than drivers. Their work is so much more than just reading maps. They also need to mentally lead the driver, work on a specific way of communication, and live in a world of massive losses and gains. While a good navigator can specify a danger with precision to 100 metres, a professional like Alvaro can do that for just 10 metres.