Energylandia driver Goczal had dominated the opening week of Dakar in T3 category, with his performances even earning him a place inside the overall top 10 after the 48-hour Stage 6 on Friday.
However, during the rest day in Riyadh, the FIA announced that Goczal has been excluded from the results for using a carbon clutch that has not been not authorised by the stewards. This decision is irrevocable, with Goczal and his co-driver Oriol Mena now out of the rally-raid.
The statement read: “The Sporting Commissaires, having received a report from the FIA Technical Delegate [Doc. 6.5] on the inspection of the gearbox and clutch system after being sealed on 11/01/2024 before the start of SS6 [after refueling/service area], having summoned the Competitor, having heard the Competitor’s Representatives [Patrick GERRITSEN and Cyrille CONSTENSOU] and the FIA Technical Delegate [Mr. Christophe VELY], and also present the ASO Technical Coordinator [Mr. Thierry VIARDOT], having examined the various elements presented, having considered the following matter, determine the following: that the clutch of car #302 did not comply with Art. 286-2.3 of Appendix J of the FIA 2024 ISC.”
“[Therefore the FIA has decided] to disqualify car #302 from the Dakar Rally 2024”.
Goczal was not the only driver to be punished with a disqualification, as his uncle Michal was also handed the same sanction for an identical reason, losing his fifth place in the category.
Eryk Goczal responded to his exit from Dakar by posting a screenshot of what appeared to be the Dakar rulebook, highlighting a point that suggested that there are no restrictions on use of materials in the clutch mechanicsm.
Several media outlets including Motorsport.com have learned that the stewards had a meeting with the Polish family through a video call in which they agreed to use such parts. However, there is no official record of that call.
Although the affected parties tried to make a protest, one of the members of the governing body assured that he did not remember anything of that conversation.
With nothing to verify that the permission was granted for use of a carbon clutch, both members of the Goczal family were excluded from the results.
In a statement issued by Energylandia, the team mentioned both Goczals have declared their willingness to appeal, but it could take as many 30 days for the appeal to be accepted. This means that even if the appeal is accepted and then successful, they cannot compete in the remainder of the rally.
With both Goczals out, Mitch Guthrie moves into the lead of the t3 T3 category, with Cristina Gutierrez now running second. In the overall standings, Overdrive Toyota’s Guerlain Chicherit moves up to 10th place that was previously occupied by the younger of the two Goczal family members.