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Case study

CASE STUDY: How we developed the headlights that finished the Dakar Rally in four days

What does the Dakar Rally and light have in common? For us at DEVINN, everything. We made a bespoke headlight for Tomáš Tomeček's legendary Tatra car, and we are also working with ŠKODA Motorsport to develop headlights. But when Ondra Klymčiw came to us and said he needed additional headlights in four days.

Ondřej Klymčiw is a phenomenon of the Czech racing world. He has been racing dragsters since he was twenty years old, but soon changed this discipline to enduro. "I was attracted by the fact that it's not only about technique, but also about head and fitness. Even at that time I had the idea to try Dakar," he explains. It was the world's most famous rally race that made him famous - he finished 20th in his first year, and an even better 11th the following year.

Injuries to Ondrej Klymčiw

However, successes were quickly replaced by crashes - first at the 2016 Dakar, Klymčiw suffered a fractured pelvis. "I should have gone head on. I broke the paper in my navigation and didn't take three minutes to fix it. I fell in the river while trying to pass two rivals at the same time. It was a broken pelvis," comments the racer.

On 8 January 2018, Klymčiw crashed again, this time at 115 km/h. Four crushed vertebrae, three cardiac arrests and two months in artificial sleep. Even after all these years, it's not easy for the racer to talk about this topic. He doesn't know what happened, when it happened or how it happened." Miraculously, Klymchiv survived and recovered from his injuries. It was clear, however, that he would not be returning to his motorcycle.

And so the idea of Škoda for Dakar began to germinate in his mind. Within half a year, he managed to find the necessary funding for the ambitious project, but the whole period was very hectic, according to the racer. This also explains the time pressures we faced together in developing the lights. "Of course I thought I would need lights, but there was so much trouble around Skoda that I kept putting it off," says the racer himself. So our development team was given the seemingly impossible task of developing additional headlights that could appear at the Dakar Rally in four days.

Fortunately, there was no need to start from scratch. "We had already done development for ŠKODA Motorsport, and we also worked with other Czech rallying teams. We were able to build on these light designs and they saved us a huge amount of time," says Jakub Jaček, DEVINN's developer.

Headlight light map

The optics and electronics are based on the ŠKODA Motorsport lights: four TIR point collimators provide a spot light map, while an additional eight collimators create a light "fog" that illuminates the surroundings. The light map thus resembles the shape of an eye. The headlamp is twice as powerful as the ŠKODA Motorsport light.

Dakar tailor-made

The next challenge, however, was to adapt the lights for the extreme temperatures in Saudi Arabia. "We had to make the entire light as thermally light as possible, so we decided to go down the route of an all-aluminium construction with no plastic parts at all," explains Adam Bažant, who was in charge of the project for DEVINN.

Just when it seemed to be done, the developers discovered that only half of the collimators were lit. "It turned out that a manufacturing defect in the power PCB was to blame. Fortunately, we had a spare and were able to reassemble the light," says Jaček. After that, things went from strength to strength. On Friday evening the light was ready and on Saturday morning it was fitted to the car.

And how did the headlight work? "It's simple, we call it a darkness switch on the team. You turn the light on and it's like the sun coming out," praises Klymčiw. "There's no other way to describe it than comfort. We didn't have to deal with visibility at all when we were crossing in the dark." With a collimator layout and a luminous flux of over 10,000 lm, the headlamp is one of the best in its category.

And what's next for our headlights? "The great advantage of our lights is their variability - the collimators can be rearranged almost indefinitely, giving us the ability to adjust the shape and output of every light we design. So we can tailor a solution for anyone who needs flawless visibility in their work. Motorsport is a great example of such an industry, but for us this is just the beginning." Describes DEVINN founder Luboš Hajský.

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