There’s more than a few eye-catching machines on this year’s Dakar Rally.
Audi’s RS Q e-tron looks a bit like something you’d use to explore the surface of the moon, for instance, while the sight of a 10-ton truck as it rolls down the side of a sand dune is one that never fails to amaze.
But perhaps the most wonderful vehicle of them all on Dakar 2024 has been a fluorescent-colored “duck”.
Confused? Well, for those of you who aren’t from the Czech Republic, “duck” is the Czech nickname for a Citroën 2CV due to its habit of swaying back and forth when cornering. And the 2CV in question here is driven by the all-female crew of Barbora Holická and Lucie Engová.
Competing in the Dakar Classic category, the project – dubbed “Duckar” – pitches the pair into arguably the world’s toughest motorsport test in what is, on looks alone at least, the most unsuitable of machines.
As you would expect, there’s a long story behind it.
“I’ve been doing motorsport for more than 10 years, driving in the Czech rally championship,” two-time Czech women’s rally champion Holická, who competes exclusively in Citroëns, told the official Dakar website. “My family isn’t into motorsport at all, but I always wanted to go to races and see the cars.
It might have been easier and cheaper to go with another car, but everybody loves the projectBarbora Holická
“When I got the opportunity [to compete in motorsport], I put everything into it – no holidays, no shopping! I have a background in traditional rally and I also do hillclimb competitions, but cross-country is brand new for me, and the Dakar was something I never imagined.
“I knew people working there as mechanics, and I used to joke with them: ‘Take me with you!’ Then I met Olga.”
That would be Olga Roučková, head of the Czech Samurais team which is running the 2CV on this year’s Dakar and a frequent Dakar competitor herself. After meeting Holická at a local historic event, Roučková invited her out to last year’s Dakar to see what it was all about.
Liking what she saw on the 2023 edition, Holická started planning her own Dakar adventure, seeking to enter the classic car category on Roučková’s advice. The only problem was, she needed a car capable of doing the job.
“I was tempted by the [Citroën] ZX Rallye-Raid,” she said, “but it’s impossible to pay for it! Then a friend said: ‘You have to go with the 2CV, that’ll be the best fun’.”
Originally sporting a beige livery, the 1979 2CV was first campaigned by Holická at last year’s Rallye Berounka Revival. But despite its competition history, this “duck” needed some serious preparation before it was ready to take on the brutal Saudi Arabian desert landscape.
“I found a 2CV and a specialist mechanic, Tomáš [Neruda],” explained Holická. Neruda was able to work wonders, transforming the rusty, old 2CV into a fully-prepared Dakar special.
With the car ready to rally, all the Czech pilot now needed was a co-driver to navigate her through the arduous Saudi stages. Enter Czech motorsport royalty: Lucie Engová.
An experienced co-driver in the Czech Rally Championship, Engová is the daughter of the late Břetislav Enge, a legend in his homeland having competed in both the European and World Touring Car Championships during the 1970s and 80s.
His son, and Engová’s brother, is Tomáš Enge, who is perhaps the greatest Czech racing hero of them all as the only driver from the country to compete in Formula 1, making three starts for Prost during the 2001 season.
Having one of the biggest names in Czech motorsport alongside her has certainly helped draw attention to Holická’s Duckar project, which has only been made possible through the generous support she has received from fans.
And speaking of drawing attention, what about that psychedelic paint job? That’s courtesy of Czech pop artist Josef Rataj, who has also thrown his weight behind the project.
Add together all of these ingredients, and it’s fair to say that Holická had created a Dakar icon before the humble duck had even turned a wheel on the classic rally raid event.
“It might have been easier and cheaper to go with another car,” she said, “but I think it was the right move, because everybody loves the project. There’s an amazing community around this car.”
Holická and Engová’s goal for their project is simple – duck their way to the finish line of Dakar 2024.