“The excitement is really high on the Dakar”
After an eight-year absence, Robert Szustkowski returns to the Dakar in 2020 with the same truck crew who finished 19th alongside his son Robin in 2015. It has been over a decade since the Polish entrepreneur began competing in cross-country rallies, having established his R-Six Team in 2008 and enjoyed a baptism of fire -or ice, perhaps- on the TransSyberia Rally. Two years later, he made his Dakar debut in the cars, finishing 35th with long-time associate and co-driver Jaroslaw 'Jarek' Kazberuk. The pair were then joined by Robert's eldest son Robin as they completed Dakar 2012 in a truck. The world's most famous rally has held a fascination for the 54-year-old ever since he watched the earliest editions on television as a boy. A champion of renewable energy, his dream for the future is to do the Dakar in an electrical vehicle that is capable of matching diesel or petrol machines in terms of speed, distance and reliability. Robert's other great passion is sailing. The R-Six Team has also been competing in international regattas since 2016, claiming victories at the Multihull Cup in Majorca and during Antigua Sailing Week in the Caribbean. His younger son Aleksander is part of the sailing crew, although Robert is hopeful that he and his two boys will one day be able to race the Dakar together. Though he loves being at sea, the experienced Pole says there is no substitution for the adrenaline and excitement of the Dakar, and alongside Jarek and mechanic Filip Skrobanek he is looking to bring his Tatra Jamal home in the top 10 of what looks like a very competitive trucks category.
R.S.: "The Dakar was my unrealistic dream when I was 12 years old, I was afraid to say it out loud! It was fascinating to watch the drivers struggling in the vast deserts on black and white television. Now, 42 years later, I'm proud to be participating in the Dakar for the third time in my life, as part of a great adventure to fight the adversities of nature and fate. It's a childhood dream come true. The predicted weather conditions and the state of my health are not my best allies, but I accept the challenge of fighting with other drivers, and most of all with my own weaknesses. I'm ready to go beyond the limits, especially in my head. My secret weapon is the well-known Polish racer Jarek Kazberuk: traveller, rally driver, experienced navigator and sailor. In a word, a legend. I'm lucky to have him by my side and I appreciate his longtime companionship. I took part in my first rally in 2008, which was the beginning of this addictive journey. I'm not a professional rally driver, but I do them very often. I'm sure 2019 will be the last year for me in a petrol or diesel engine car. It's the beginning of a new dream: to compete in an electric car in the near future, a car which is suitable for genuine rivalry and competition. I'd like to prove that this is possible, maybe already in 2021. As the industry of renewable energy sources attracts and fascinates me very much, I've become involved in the 'E Power Control' green energy project -which I will be not so proudly promoting on my diesel truck- but I hope to promote it on an electric one soon. It is a challenge I have taken up, to set new standards in rallies and show that they can be green and eco-friendly, with competitive zero-emissions vehicles. This commitment is the foundation of my other passion, which is sailing on multihulls; wind, water, silence and closeness to nature. Hopefully it will also be possible for rallies, simply with sand instead of water. Next year, if the regulations are right, we'll come back with an electric vehicle. And we'll understand Saudi Arabia a bit better after this year. That's one of several reasons why I'm back. We have a good deal with Tatra. My son Robin and Jarek have done the Dakar with them several times and Tatra wanted to come back this year, so we have a completely new truck. But the main reason is adrenaline. On the sea, it's amazing. You have a team, clean wind, water and everything, but it’s not enough adrenaline for me. The excitement is really high on the Dakar. Robin is also a rally driver, he's finished the Dakar twice. My younger son Aleksandar is a member of our sailing crew. He'll be 18 next December, so all three of us may have a chance to go to Dakar 2021 together. With Robin and Jarek, we are maybe the last three truck drivers in Poland! Perhaps my younger son can learn too. But there is nobody to teach the next generation, no programme for truck drivers. We are like mammoths, a dying breed! My ambition this year is to finish, as always. We've been given a very nice number, #510, so we'd like to be somewhere close to this number. Between 10th and 15th place, that's the dream target, but we will see. You can say the Dakar is like a kaleidoscope, it's a lottery. Your situation can change any minute, any second. We're also trained in first aid, so we'll be carrying a lot of medical items, including a defibrillator, and we can intervene in case of fire. That's a big thing for us, we've already done it a few times. People have needed us for medical support, once in rally and once in sailing. I like to have this stuff on board in case of any accidents, to help out other teams or whoever is around. We try to help, not only to compete!"
FESH FESH / R-SIXTEAM
- Mark : TATRA
- Model : JAMAL
- Performance tuner : Fesh Fesh Team / R-Six Team
- Assistance : Fesh Fesh Team / R-Six Team
- Class : T4.1 Production trucks
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