Eryk Goczal: “Trust me, we wouldn’t risk the Dakar Rally by breaking any rule”

Eryk Goczal: "Trust me, we wouldn't risk the Dakar Rally by breaking any rule"


Eryk Goczał was cruising atop the 2024 Dakar Rally‘s Challenger standings when he was disqualified for an illegal clutch after the sixth stage. The penalty also resulted in the same fate for his uncle Michał Goczał while father Marek Goczał was already out of contention due to mechanical trouble, souring the mood at his family-run EnergyLandia Rally Team.

Specifically, the clutches in the team’s Taurus T3 Max cars were found to be made using carbon composite material, which is forbidden by regulation. While certain parts can use composite material like the outer body and air ducts, the clutch cannot be composed of it, titanium and magnesium alloys, or ceramics.

“I can’t come to terms with the decision that affected us,” wrote Goczał. “I can’t describe the pain I feel right now. We had rented the cars for Dakar. I had to sell my own one to be able to start in the rally. It’s been a long and difficult road. Two weeks before the rally began, I thought I won’t be able to compete there.”

The team protested the verdict, insisting that the clutch did not enhance the cars’ performance and pointed out that the same rules allow the use of a “free” clutch, to which the FIA stressed that banned elements are still explicitly listed. EnergyLandia also suggested the cars were investigated on the request of other competitors keen on “eliminating key competitors” from the race.

Taurus clutches are generally made of steel, while the manufacturer—a joint venture between MCE-5 Development and Wevers Sport—later apologised for what they described as a “misinterpretation of the technical regulations” by the team.

“We checked everything and there can’t be any mistake here. Before the rally we’ve asked about the clutch and we were assured that it had been consulted with FIA technical delegate and that we can use it,” he explained.

“The clutch didn’t make us go faster. It didn’t gave us more power and it didn’t play any role in us winning the stages and leading the rally by over one hour. These were the hardest stages in my life by I felt I’m prepared for this. I’m sure, that even if we would received some time penalty and they would ask us to change the clutch – as it usually happens when it comes to unclear regulations – we would still win these stages. Trust me, we wouldn’t risk the Dakar Rally by breaking any rule.

“At this moment I still need some time to think about it. I don’t know which direction to go next. However, I can assure you that I will never give up.”

Prior to the disqualification, Goczał, the defending Dakar SSV champion, had won five of six stages in the Challenger class and were leading by over an hour. After his exit, fellow Taurus driver Mitch Guthrie inherited the lead and held it before being overtaken by another Taurus driver Cristina Gutiérrez on the final stage for the outright victory. Four Tauruses finished in the top ten with Marcelo Gastaldi and Nicolás Cavigliasso respectively placing seventh and ninth.

After the rally, Can-Am driver João Monteiro filed a protest against the Tauruses of Guthrie, Cavigliasso, and Dania Akeel to confirm if their clutches were legal; the FIA report on the investigation stated Monteiro’s team claimed they also used composite materials “after reviewing the regulations and communicating with the manufacturer”. All three cars were cleared of wrongdoing.


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