Loprais Tatra Team sets off to Dakar 2010

The definite look of the 32th edition of the legendary Dakar in Argentina and Chile was officially unveiled in Paris on November 24. Ales Loprais and his Tatra special will be at the starting line again, marked with No. 502.

The Team is heading to South America with the well tested Tatra 815 4x4 special, which was already used at Silk Way Rally. Ales Loprais scored a solid podium placement, though having been initially outnumbered by a fleet of domestic Kamaz trucks. "We have placed maximum focus on all fine tunings including every single detail. The last two rallies, the bad-luck Dakar 2009 and Silk way Rally, provided us enormous amounts of technical feedback and experience. All the bad things turned up to be good for something. The preparation was to be responsible to make the truck faster but we still managed to counter all difficulties we had met in the past year. I believe it will be this kind of prep that will pay in the end. My feelings based on the handling of the vehicle are great. It is more powerful again, faster and more balanced in terms of weight distribution. We have made a tuneup of the damping, at which we benefit from four years of steady development. I think we are ready enough to be a solid rival for both Kamaz and Ginaf. However, the race is too long with very concentrated difficulty sections. Therefore, we intend to concentrate and a steadiness of solid stage results without any major drops because they are increasingly harder to eliminate," Ales concludes.

The team is following the steps of the Silk Way also in a different aspect. Ales Loprais and Milan Holan (who knows the truck better than anyone else) will be teamed by a new navigator from SWR, Jaro Miskolci. "I have become enthusiastic for navigation and all that comes around it. I was a rookie at Silk Way but soon I developed my own system of processing all information, which is a necessity for every navigator. Also, other navigators, both Czech and foreign, provided me enough hints when needed. In the end of the rally, my feelings were superb, I could steer the truck at such speeds by releasing a couple of words. The cooperation with Ales was increasingly good and we managed to win a stage at the end of the rally. I also intend to prepare precisely every day, the roadbook must be all ready. Every detail counts."

The truck is already well known to most fans. The developing team placed three years of racing experience to its design and construction. It will be taken care of by a crew of mechanics in teh bivouac, Radim Pustejovsky, Michal Ptacek and Lubos Kypet. The assistence vehicle is the Tatra 815 4x4, nicknamed Philharmony. "Yes, we are taking only one assistance vehicle this time but I think we are carrying more spare parts than last year. And their distribution is more systematic, too. I hope all mechanics will play their role well. In South America, almost all liaison sections will be run on asphalt. The competing teams are taking large service facilities but I think that Philharmony will be a solid venue for all of us," Ales concludes.

The press car, Nissan Navara, will not be missing in South America, either, and so there should be enough news every day. The crew is rather traditional: the Dakar legend, Karel Loprais with his brother, Milan and team correspondent, Jiri Vintr. The fourth is Martin Skutek, owner of a partner company called Auris: a company that took partin the creation of the electronic system of the race vehicle.

The starting field is somewhat reduced due to continuing economic recession. The trucks missing are mainly rapid assistance trucks, though, as many teams decided to rationalize on them. Of the main favorites, only Hans Stacey's team is missing. Although Gerard de Rooy will not race and his father had concluded his carreer the truck of team de Rooy will face the Kamaz and Tatra in the hands of Frenchman Joseph Adua. However, all Czech teams have become stronger, and so a close battle of Russians, Dutchmen and Czechs is highly likely. As many as five Tatra trucks in the top specification will be at the start and the organizers seeded five Czech trucks between low starting numbers of 502 and 510.

The ship carrying all the vehicles is not far from Buenos Aires. Upon arrival to the start city, the team will withdraw vehicles at the port of Delta Dock against the mighty flow of the Parana river. All administrative and technical scrutinnerings will take place in Buenos Aires at the La Rural exhibition site. On New Year's Day, the celebrations of the bicentenial of both hosting countries can start with the greatest rally in the world. The first special is on schedule for January 2, 2010.

Of course the broadcasting of the Dakar will be provided both by Eurosport and by Czech TV. Follow the Loprais Tatra Team web site to get the latest update.

-credit: loprais.cz