GCK MOTORSPORT LOOKS BACK ON MAIDEN
Known as the world’s toughest rally as their first competitive cross-country race, the 2022 Dakar Rally didn’t disappoint in delivering the testing and development ground GCK Motorsport was looking for when choosing the event as their first competitive cross-country entry. The team achieved 3 top 15 stage rankings, at times climbing up to 50 positions through the rankings of a special from difficult starting positions.
A rollercoaster of race experiences, learnings and growth for driver, car and team and comprehensive data feedback are just some of the takeaways for GCK Motorsport as it returns to its HQ in France. Not to forget the impressive tenacity shown by all members of the French squad that saw the team do a complete car rebuild due to the GCK Thunder having landed on its roof only to earn a top 10 stage finish the day after.
Powered by an advanced sustainable fuel that reduces race GHG emissions by at least 65% and a bespoke-built FORD engine consistently delivering maximum output, the GCK Thunder impressed with its competitive pace throughout its first rally outing, mixing with the top 10 on speed through many sectors.
Having suffered from a melted engine harness part in the qualifying stage of the world-famous rally that saw the GCK Thunder stranded in the desert for several hours, GCK Motorsport had their work cut out for them to fight their way back into the standings. The team proceeded to do so the next day in stage 1B, posting an impressive P8 stage result having started from 132nd!
Stage 4 delivered a major Dakar talking point, as the GCK Thunder jumped a dune, rolled, and flipped across the Saudi desert before landing on its roof. Both Guerlain and Alex were unharmed, crawled out of the vehicle and worked together to get it running again, unassisted as is the way the Dakar Rally is so famous for. They arrived back at the bivouac late at night, where the GCK Motorsport team pulled together and rebuilt the Thunder to fantastic race spec within 6 hours. This saw Chicherit and Winocq cross the finish line of stage 5 in P5, an incredible achievement and testament to the team’s spirit and driving ability, as well as technical ability behind the scenes. A 2-minute penalty handed out later that night pushed GCK Motorsport into P8 of the stage rankings.
Following a few tricky stages that threw punctures, missed waypoints due to getting lost in canyons and broken parts due to impact on rocks and challenging Saudi terrain at GCK Motorsport in true Dakar style, the team raced its way into P14 in stage 10, marking its 3 top 15 stage results at the 2022 Dakar Rally.
The end of this year’s rally came unexpectedly in the form of the fire extinguisher setting off unaided inside the GCK Thunder during pre-start test procedures at the exit of the bivouac of stage 11. A mandatory part of the safety equipment that must be in the car, without it or a homologated spare available to the team, GCK Motorsport had to retire on the very last day of their first Dakar Rally.
“It’s awesome to be back at the Dakar Rally after such a long break, it made me realise how much I missed it. And to do this incredibly hard event with my own team GCK Motorsport and see everyone tackle each challenge and pull together the way they did makes it even more special. The last two weeks have been difficult, there’s no doubt, but it’s made us all even hungrier to come back and fight at the top. This event’s reputation is well-founded, and I am really looking forward to the months ahead of race development as a team before we return to tackle Dakar again next year.”, Guerlain Chicherit, President of GCK and driver of the GCK Thunder, added.
“It’s been a hugely beneficial first Dakar Rally for us as a team. We've achieved great comebacks when faced with adversity and are taking home a lot of learnings and data findings, as well as having been able to showcase the speed and capabilities of the GCK Thunder. I’m very proud of every single team member, for many of whom it was the very first Dakar experience. They’ve proven themselves to be skilled and unwavering in their spirit through massive challenges that only an event like the Dakar will throw at you. We head home excited for the next World Rally-Raid Championship races to continue to achieve better results in preparation for the 2023 Dakar Rally.”, Sebastien Lesonneur, Cross Country Team Manager for GCK Motorsport, commented.