Monday, March 4, 2024

Zdenek Tuma skipping 2024 Dakar Rally

Zdeněk Tůma was hoping to run his sixth Dakar Rally in 2024, but will have to put it off another year for what his BARTH Racing cited as “time and workload of the leading team members.”

Save for skipping the 2021 edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tůma had raced at Dakar in the Quad category every year since 2017. He impressed in 2022 when he finished fourth, enabling him to set high expectations for the 2023 edition of finally breaking onto the podium.

His race came to an end after crashing in Stage #4. While not seriously injured, his Yamaha suffered terminal damage that knocked him out. He had been running twelfth in the Quad category prior to the accident.

After Dakar, he focused on various rally events in his native Czech Republic such as the OffROAD Maraton series. He finished fifth in the MISTR Quad SP category standings.

Tůma’s absence further makes the Quad category barren at Dakar. Only ten entrants are taking part, which Pablo Copetti—who finished third in 2023 but will not race in 2024—attributed to new policies that tightened the eligibility criteria for the class; Quad riders must have either run three World Rally-Raid Championship rounds or a Dakar in the past five years. Outside investment in the class has also decreased in recent years, and sponsorship concerns threatened to take out reigning world champion Laisvydas Kancius while five-time Dakar Quad winners Alejandro and Marcos Patronelli had to abandon their 2024 plans as a result. Copetti was also a victim of a lack of funding, which made him consider a switch to racing an SSV before dropping the idea altogether, whereas W2RC Quad runner-up Rodolfo Guillioli has since switched to co-driving in a car.

The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January.