T4 leader Eryk Goczal forgoing W2RC pursuit for studies

2023 could not have begun any better for Eryk Goczał when the eighteen-year-old held off reigning World Rally-Raid Champion Rokas Baciuška to win the T4 class at the Dakar Rally. Although the victory makes him the T4 points leader entering the next W2RC round in Abu Dhabi, he is still a teenager with his own aspirations and academics.

With this in mind, he has dropped his plans of pursuing the W2RC in 2023 as he prepares to finish secondary school and earn his International Baccalaureate diploma before entering university. Graduation from the former clashes with the Sonora Rally, which is the third round of the W2RC, in April. He was accepted into EHL Hospitality Business School, a hotel management academy in Switzerland, in February.

“Winning Dakar Rally means we with Oriol (Mena) are the leaders of the World Rally-Raid Championship in T4 category. I always set myself the highest goals and the fight for the title of World Champion is definitely one of them. It’s another dream to come true, but I’m also a realist and I know what I should focus on right now,” posted Goczał on social media.

“As you know, I have my graduation ahead (whose date coincides with one of the rounds of the World Championships), as well as the start of my dream studies. This is an investment in my future and I intend to make the most of this time.”

“I’d like and will do my best to compete in the higher class next year. I know this year’s winning was just the beginning, I will fight to success even more in the future, achieve many goals at an increasingly higher level. Everything has its time.”

The 2023 edition marked Goczał’s Dakar début after mostly dabbling in regional rally raid events like the Baja Poland and winning the Polish Drift Championship’s BMP class title. The Goczał family, also consisting of father Marek and uncle Michal, won a combined seven stages with Eryk claiming four. The youngest Goczał finished with over sixteen minutes overall on Baciuška to become the youngest Dakar stage and general winner, with Marek placing third and Michal seventh. Eryk, Marek, and Michal were recognised by the Lesser Poland Voivodeship legislature on 4 February for their achievements.

The Goczałs own and operate EnergyLandia, an amusement park in Zator, Poland. The park also lends its name to the Goczałs’ rally raid programme, EnergyLandia Rally Team.

With Goczał withdrawing from the championship, his co-driver Oriol Mena will work with Guoyu Zhang in the T1 category at next week’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.