KODIAQ set off on a route across Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina as a support car for the Czech Republic’s BARTH Racing team. This was the first ŠKODA vehicle ever to participate in the desert marathon.

“We were researching whether there ever had been a ŠKODA car that had driven the Dakar in the past, perhaps just as a support vehicle. And when we didn’t find any such information, we decided it was high time for that to change,” explained Michal Burkoň, the team’s leader.

It was no specially modified vehicle which set off on the South American adventure, but a serial-production car, specifically the ŠKODA KODIAQ STYLE 2.0 TDI in the 4×4 version and with the seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

We’re driving a route of just under 10,000 kilometres through Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina

Burkoň described the journey’s perils even before the start: “The main challenge is to show that the Czech SUV can cope with the hazards of a strenuous automotive competition, and particularly in the South American conditions. We’re driving a route of just under 10,000 kilometers through Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina, and, as an assistance vehicle, we will mostly be on paved roads. Nevertheless, we will be driving at high altitudes more than 4,500 meters above sea level, and we also will have to tackle sand, dunes, a salt flat, mud, and dusty roads.”

Behind the ŠKODA KODIAQ’s steering wheel was the Czech television and radio presenter Vlasta Korec, who also had a journalist’s duties to attend to during the journey. “We will be releasing this bear of ours into a territory outside of its normal range. I’m looking forward to this tremendously,” Korec remarked. “I’ve had good experience with cars from ŠKODA in the past. For a long while I was driving a SUPERB Laurin & Klement, for example. That was an excellent car.” He knew beforehand, however, that he would not be taking advantage of the 210 kilometers per hour maximum speed of his “Dakar” vehicle. “Even support cars have little boxes inside that monitor speed. Transgressions are subject to fines and it even can happen that a race driver will be penalized for any irresponsibility of his team’s support car,” he explained.

The white-and-blue KODIAQ did not just drive between the start and finish points of the individual stages, however. “We operated as the team’s minibus and were constantly shuttling between the hotel and the bivouac,” related Korec, describing KODIAQ’s tasks before the start in Lima, Peru. “The car is sufficiently comfortable even for seven people. And the adaptive cruise control also proved itself to me; it definitely makes driving more comfortable and pleasant,” he said, listing the car’s advantages he discovered in South America.

Vlasta Korec, Czech TV and radio host
image source: BARTH Racing

“This certainly is no dune racer; it would have to be substantially rebuilt for that. But it moves naturally in lighter off-road conditions,” he continued in evaluating the car. “We carry a lot of things: tents, sleeping bags, cameras, tripods, photo cameras, drones, two Dakar crates, and clothes. It amazes me that KODIAQ took it all in,” concluded the driver, sharing another of his practical experiences.

KODIAQ and crew experienced the toughest conditions of the route in Bolivia, where the Dakar convoy drove at altitudes greater than 4,000 metres above sea level. “Many vehicles had problems with insufficient power and slipped into limp mode. KODIAQ came out the best, as we noticed no substantial power loss,” remarked Michal Burkoň praisingly. He added that the car also handled the potholed Bolivian roads and low-quality diesel fuel. “We saw a lot of cars with their engines smoking. KODIAQ endured all of this, too,” Mr Burkoň concluded.