Mitch Guthrie Jr (USA) is seen at the finish line of Rally Dakar 2024 in Yambu, Saudi Arabia on January 19, 2024 // Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202401190272 // Usage for editorial use only //

WATCH: In the Dust Episode 8 | Stories Beyond the Race

Published: Saturday January 20 2024
As the sun sets over Yanbu, marking the culmination of the Dakar Rally, the numbers tell a captivating tale – 7,891 kilometres covered, 434 racing machines, and 778 steadfast competitors. Episode 8 of In The Dust captures the essence of this incredible journey, illuminating the extraordinary tales that unfolded in the desert.

One such tale belongs to Barbora Holická and Lucie Engová, pioneers who solidified their place in Dakar history by conquering the rally in an iconic 1979 Citroën 2CV. Their vibrant vehicle, affectionately named “Duckar” after the Czech moniker for the car (‘duck’), became an unconventional symbol of resilience.

Barbora recounts a pivotal moment: “We got stuck in the sand, and it was a total disaster. We were pushing, our muscles were aching, and we were tired, running on no sleep. But, when we finally got out [of the sand], and we started to ride again, we were like, ‘Yeah!’”

The kaleidoscopic masterpiece was crafted by Czech pop artist Josef Rataj, who, in Barbora’s words, said: “I will make you something crazy because your idea [of racing the Dakar in a 2CV] is crazy.”

Italian rider Cesare Zacchetti steps into the spotlight next, his Dakar journey taking an unexpected turn during the 48-hour Chrono Stage. Stranded without fuel, Cesare faced what seemed like the end of his race, but his determination led to a remarkable night in the dunes.

Looking back, Cesare shares: “I wasn’t scared because I knew the organisation knew where I was. They called me, and they told me the helicopter was coming. They only flew around in the sky, and they went away. But in the morning, when the light came, I saw they dropped me a duvet and it was down the dunes.”

This unforeseen circumstance exposed the Italian rider, now dubbed the “Sandman,” to the beauty and serenity of the desert. “I used the seat of the bike as a pillow, and it was comfortable. I had time to rest, it was perfect. It was quiet and so beautiful. I think a lot of people would pay a lot of money for a night like this one,” he adds.

The episode also features Mitch Guthrie Jr. and Laia Sanz, offering a glimpse into their feelings upon completing the world’s most demanding off-road competition.

Hosts Nicola Hume and Rob Warner then take viewers to the finish line in Yanbu, attempting to grasp the charged atmosphere as Dakar participants bring their race to a close. Audi driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz, immersed in the jubilant cheers of the crowd, celebrate their victory seated atop their car. In a heartwarming surprise, Carlos Sainz Jr., the driver’s son and Formula One Ferrari driver, joins this triumphant moment.

Then there’s Austrian rookie Tobias Ebster, who, in the wake of his triumph in the “Original by Motul” classification (formerly known as “Malle Moto”), expresses his elation: “The last 15 kilometres have been so emotional. I was thinking about so many things that happened in the last few years, and now being here at the finish of the first Dakar, it’s a big one. It was such a big adventure; it’s the toughest rally in the world. I loved it and I enjoyed every moment.”

The emotional peak is reached when Cristina Gutiérrez realises her win in the T3 Challenger category, becoming the first female driver to secure the title since Jutta Kleinschmidt in 2001. The Spanish driver embraces her team, proudly waves the flag over her Taurus T3 Max, and says: “We had to keep fighting until the end, and this is what I did.”

From the quirks of “Duckar” to the unplanned night in the dunes, Episode 8 unfolds the diverse narratives that make Dakar much more than a simple race – it’s a canvas painted with passion, resilience, and the spirit of conquering the unknown. As the ‘In The Dust’ series bids farewell to the 2024 Dakar Rally, the echoes of engines and the imprints of stories remain etched in the desert sands, reminding the world of the extraordinary feats achieved in the Saudi wilderness.