Jaromír Romančík‘s Dakar Rally début ended after the halfway point when he sacrificed his bike’s rear wheel to help team-mate Milan Engel continue the race. For 2025, he hopes to not only reach the finish but is also thinking about raising the stakes by competing without a team in the Original by Motul category.
“Next time, I would like to go do the Original by Motul,” he told Czech station TV Nova. “It’s the real Dakar, and after all, it’s probably the cheapest option for me.”
Romančík arrived at the Dakar as part of the all-Czech Orion – Moto Racing Group, on the heels of finishing seventh overall in Rally2 at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc and second among Road to Dakar entrants where victory would have earned him free registration. However, his fortunes quickly took a wrong turn as an upset stomach plagued him on the opening stage, then a fuel system problem on his KTM 450 forced him to stop fifteen times in Stage #2. His illness returned shortly after the third day began and forced him to drop out again.
He finally completed a stage in Stage #4, albeit with a damaged radiator that caused him to lose water early on. His fortunes improved over the next two days with finishes of fifteenth and twentieth, the latter coming in the 48-hour Chrono Stage.
Unfortunately, Stage #7 ended up being his last when he encountered Engel sixty kilometres into the leg with the rear wheel removed.
“My heart told me to help him, so I stopped immediately and without hesitation gave him the rear wheel even though I knew that if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to continue,” Romančík tearfully stated after bowing out. “I’m not too concerned anymore, just here to gain experience. I hope Milan finishes, and that this thing paid off.”
True to his hopes, Engel both completed the race and scored a top ten as he finished tenth in Rally2, the second highest rider among those not competing for the World Rally-Raid Championship behind winner Harith Noah. The team’s other Rally2 riders Martin Prokeš, Bartłomiej Tabin, and Dušan Drdaj respectively finished twenty-ninth, thirty-ninth, and seventieth. Martin Michek also placed tenth overall in the top-level RallyGP class for Orion–MRG.
Original by Motul, also known as Malle Moto, is a subcategory of Rally2 intended for riders who do not have assistance from crews and instead work on their bikes on their own or with the help of fellow racers. While Malle Moto competitors are consequently often at a disadvantage compared to their Rally2 counterparts, they can still put up impressive performances as was the case with winner Tobias Ebster, who won Rally2 outright in Stage #5 and set the ninth best time in the larger class.