The past, present and future Czechs on the Dakar
May 30 th 2018 - 11:02
The Prague stop on the Dakar Tour was a chance to survey the intentions of the Czech competitors as it concerns the 2019 Dakar, which will be held in Peru next January. With nine “rookies” on the last entry list and a contingent that is the fifth largest on the nations ranking, the Czech Republic is one of the dynamic powers on the Dakar. After winning in the truck division with Karel Loprais and in the quad category with Josef Machacek, the Czech Republic could perhaps one day aim for the outright win with Martin Prokop.
The history of the Czech Republic on the Dakar is closely linked to the truck category, with one of its legends being Karel Loprais. He won six times between 1988 and 2001, but was surpassed in the record book by Russian Vladimir Chagin; the old Tatra driver remains the benchmark in his country. And he inspired everyone gathered for the Dakar Tour in the "TV Tower" overlooking Prague. His nephew Ales Loprais, 3rd in the 2007 edition and a stage winner in Peru last January, continues the tradition, but he is not alone. The Czech truck racers are still among the elite and should continue to star in 2019 with Martin Kolomy and Martin Soltys in the Buggyra Racing team, but even more so with the very promising Martin Macik, who made it to Córdoba in 5th place in the general classification. The future is also represented by a new Czech leader, Martin Prokop, who has made a successful conversion to rally-raid, which is highlighted by his 7th place finish in the car category in a Ford 4X4.
Among the newcomers for the 2018 edition, the Czechs made headlines with their two female competitors, whose destinies were different in the end. Gabriela Novotna’s adventure in the bike category came to a premature end on stage 10, while her countrywomen and quad racer, Olga Rouckova was exhausted but classified in the final standings in her first Dakar. “After this completely crazy experience, my next challenge is to enter the next Dakar in Side by Side”, explains the delegation’s new favourite team member.