Dakar 2024: Toyota Gazoo Racing Czech crew overcome the impossible
Toyota Gazoo Racing Czech crew Tomas Ourednicek and David Kripal started well into the dreaded 48-hour chrono stage of the 46th Dakar Rally, but later, a technical problem almost forced them out of the race. However, Tomas and David managed to solve the unsolvable and finish the stage and, with it, the first half of the Dakar Rally.
“We started with high expectations after a great stage in the dunes the day before. So I was really looking forward to this 48-hour marathon stage. However, even the start was very hard. It was obvious from the beginning that it would be a really hard stage because we found the truck, which was starting right before us in the first part of the dune, on its side. Soon, we overtook another truck and a car. This was great as finally we had a clear view. We were alone, we had a very good pace, and we enjoyed it.
Then we saw Krzysztof Holowczyc, he rolled. The car was quite destroyed, we couldn’t help him. Then we met Juan Cruz Yacopini, who asked for oil, so we gave him.
For a while, everything was really fine, and I was looking forward to the nice track. But then I heard some strange noise. I thought maybe we had a puncture. But we looked in the ECU, in the computer, and the pressure was OK on the wheels. So it was clear it was not a puncture. Then the noise got stronger. So we decided to stop and check everything. And when we stopped, I saw in my mirror that the rear wheel was rolling out of the car. So we got only on three wheels left. It was immediately clear that this would be a big problem. When we looked at the car, we found that all the bolts, the wheel nuts, were broken. All of them. We had no idea how to fix it.
It seemed like our Dakar was over. This was very disappointing, especially because our pace was really good.
Then we got the idea to take the nuts from another wheel. However, this was complicated, David had to dismount everything on the wheels. Really everything. So it took a very long time, maybe three hours. Then we managed to fix it. We had three nuts on the front wheel and three nuts on the rear wheel. This was very dangerous. We didn't know if it could work or not. And then the night fell. We tried to go on, but at night, it was dangerous. It was impossible. Then, the organizers told us that we should not continue. They could pick us up for medical reasons, but then we will be out of the race. Or we can stay in the dunes and try to continue the next day. We chose to stay there.
Later, a Can-Am came. The guys were lost, so they said that they would sleep there also. And then we smelled something in the air, and there was a fire, a fireplace. We found that, and there was another guy from Spain with a South Racing Can-Am. They broke the engine. So they had to sleep there, too. So a Brazilian crew, a Czech crew, and a Spanish crew, together we made a small fire, and we slept there on the sand, next to the Can-Am. It was a nice 1,000-star hotel. It would have been a great atmosphere if my back had not been so painful and if we had known that we were in the race. It was so cold that I could hardly sleep.
We woke up at 5 o'clock, and we prepared for the drive. We helped the Brazilian guys because they were stuck with the Can-Am. We pushed them, and then we continued as the sun was going up. We started at 5.30, and we stopped every five kilometers to check the nuts on the wheels, if they were tight enough. So we were very slow, I was driving very carefully. I was so tired that I made some mistakes. We got stuck twice, and the pace was very bad because I was afraid that we would lose both wheels, but we managed to reach the finish line. This was one of the hardest stages I’ve ever raced. The best news is that the organizers say we are still in the race, we have all the waypoints. There‘s no chance for a good result anymore, but at least we can continue, and this is the most important,” an extremely tired Tomas Ourednicek said after the 48-hour stage.
Tomorrow is a well-deserved rest day for the crews in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The race resumes on Sunday.