Walcher Racing: a different way to do the Dakar

Since the engine of its Wildcat failed at the start of Leg 7, 30 kilometres out of La Paz, the crew of the N°386 car has put its disappointment behind it. The race number on the vehicle’s doors is now barred by a gray sticker but the guys who make up Walcher Racing are continuing to follow the Dakar caravan as it advances from bivouac to bivouac. True to the BFGoodrich® #driver enough spirit, they intend to complete the route all the way to the finish, their car towed by the team’s Unimog service vehicle.

The disappointment of retiring was huge and, four days after their elimination, the sadness and frustration are still visible on the squad’s faces. It’s hard for Markus to conceal the sense of void that sweeps over him from time to time and he is incapable of watching the TV images that run non-stop in the bivouacs. It’s simply too painful. “It’s really hard to have been forced out by a technical problem on a road section after surviving the first six days of dunes,” he says. “We were up to 39th place.”

The German has decided to continue his dream, however, albeit in a different but equally rewarding way. “We’ve got all the time we need now,” half jokes Gerhard. The team’s wish list has been extended with the addition of a new engine for the 2019 Dakar and the #driver enough spirit continues to prevail. Recent Eurosport coverage showed them towing a motorcycle to allow its owner to complete a stage and, yesterday, they towed the N°272 quad bike after its engine had failed. Meanwhile, the tires they didn’t get to use are helping Spanish BFGoodrich® ambassadress Cristina Gutierrez who is still in contention!

On top of their busy programme of press relations and interviews, the five team members have been taking turns to sit in the Wildcat which is attached to the Unimog by a rigid A-frame tow bar. They spend their evenings with a beer or a glass of Ouzo in hand, recalling their antics in the sand dunes and making plans for 2019, before settling down for some sleep: Markus and Gerhard in tents on the roof, Andreas on the workshop bench, Dave on the bunk and Tobias on the floor. Old school fashion!

Four questions to Markus Walcher (rookie, car N°386)

How was your first Dakar compared with the Carta Rally and the other events you had done previously?

“Much harder. The Carta Rally is always a mix of competition and holidays. Here, it‘s just a tough race, with long stages, hard navigation and difficult terrain. The dunes here in South America are much more difficult and unpredictable. They turn out to be soft when you think they are going to be hard, and vice-versa.”

There was a high number accidents and technical problems over the first six days. It seems this year’s Dakar is particularly challenging. How did you get up to 39th place so easily?

“I wouldn’t say it was so easy . It was a hard fight for us. But we took our time to find the best approach, not give way to stress and drive consistently.”

Is the Bowler Wildcat still a good car for the Dakar?

Yes, it is! Our mechanical issues were certainly due to the altitude. We don’t really know what happened yet but we will fix the problem as soon as we get back to Germany.”

Will you be back next year?

Sure, we will do the Dakar again! We just don’t know if that will be next year.”

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