DAKAR 2018



Markus Walcher and Tobias Henschel, supported by BFGoodrich®, lived a childhood dream from the 6th to the 20th of January 2018. Alongside the world's top drivers, they scaled the dunes of Latin America from Peru to Argentina. Despite a forced stoppage with an engine problem that put them out of the competition, they didn't give up, but got back on the road to finish the legendary rallye come what may. And on the way home they stopped to help other contestants in trouble. A look back at this extraordinary adventure.

Selected last summer through the Good Project Dakar Edition, Markus Walcher and his team spent months training for the Dakar rallye. A childhood dream for Markus, whose father competed in the event several times back in the 1980s and 1990s. "My dad told me lots of stories about the adventures that he experienced, and when he started competing again in 2004 I had a chance to accompany him. I knew I would eventually do it myself,"said Markus.

He met Tobias during a rally and they decided to try their luck and take part in this mythic automotive event in the company of BFGoodrich®. Following the precious advice of reputed drivers such as Nani Roma, Armin Schwarz and Christian Lavieille, the team were totally geared up. Then came the final days before the start of the race. After a memorable new year's day in Lima, Peru, they set off on January 6, making a great start to the rallye with the single-minded objective of completing the Dakar.

The first stages passed off without any major problems. This was a first for Markus and Tobias, confronted with some tough dunes but successfully staying the course and ranking in between 40th and 50th position. Come day 3, navigation proved more complicated for our two rookies, down to a lack of sleep and a tough physical ordeal for the body.

"On the fourth stage, 3 km from our objective, the engine started to stutter. The car's maker, who was with us, immediately took a look and we spent a good part of the night repairing the engine. It really was a very trying experience," recallsMarkus. The next day, more ferocious dunes again played havoc with the engine. Things stayed a little shaky until the end of the sixth stage and the arrival in La Paz.

The scheduled rest day brought welcome respite for the teams. Catching up on their sleep, gathering their strength and importantly getting organized for the stages ahead. "There was a great atmosphere in the team. Everyone did a tremendous job. Tobias was the perfect navigator and got us to all our checkpoints. Our mechanics also did a perfect job and Dave saved us by repairing the engine. Above all else, we really had fun completing all those stages," said Markus emotionally.

Unfortunately, disqualified when the engine broke down at the beginning of stage 7, 30 km after La Paz, the crew working with Markus and Tobias had to tow their vehicle to the Unimog, the Walcher Racing Team's assistance truck. "It was really tough having had to withdraw for a technical problem with a coupling when we had completed the first 6 stages of dunes and were ranked 39th," admitted a dejected Markus.

So a huge disappointment, but they stayed on course and pursued their dream following the Dakar caravan from one bivouac to the next. They were also on hand to help out drivers in difficulty, showing great team spirit that BFGoodrich® could be proud of.

More than anything, though, Markus, Tobias and the whole team are more motivated then ever to resume the adventure next year. Back again in 2019!

"When you are up against sand dunes, you can spend all day in the same place without being able to move forward, or even pull back. Things like that make the #dakar2018  the toughest race in the world."

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