After enjoying an excellent Dakar debut in 2018, Martin Soltys is back and hoping to make it a successful rally for the Tatra Buggyra Racing team, who will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2019. Last year, as a relative newcomer, Martin was able to count on the invaluable experience of navigator Josef Kalina, a three-time Dakar winner with Karel Loprais. The 45-year-old ended up making it through to Cordoba in 12th, only a place down on team leader Martin Kolomy. This time around, Josef will be working on a behind-the-scenes programme for Czech TV, so David Schovanek joins the crew as navigator, following two years as a fast assistance truck mechanic for Martin Prokop's MP-Sports team. Martin is looking forward to tackling the sand again after getting a first taste of the Peruvian dunes in last year's edition. The crew had a good run at the El Chott Rally in October, although they sacrificed any hopes of a podium finish to help out fellow Czech rider Gabriela Novotna when she ran into trouble. That very Dakar sense of altruism is likely to prove key as Martin supports Kolomy in his bid to become the first Czech winner since Loprais in 2001.
"I think I handled Dakar 2018 quite well. We had no big problems, no accidents. I'll always remember it, especially the sand dunes. They were the most incredible experience I've ever had, even if they were very tough. I was happy to reach the finish line. When I saw the big names dropping out one by one -drivers I've admired and looked up to for years- I thought to myself, 'It's a miracle that we're still going!' I hope it'll be a little easier second time around. I was a bit afraid of the sand before my debut, but I ended up liking it. I'm glad the whole rally is taking place in Peru, without having to worry about the altitude in Bolivia. “David has done Dakar twice as part of Martin Prokop's fast assistance crew, so he has some useful experience. In Tunisia we worked on communication, as well as testing a new clutch and brakes. We had a very good race, we were fighting for the top three. But we didn't finish stage seven because we came across Gabina Novotna and stopped to help her after an accident. I didn't hesitate for a moment, because health is the most important thing.”
TATRA BUGGYRA RACING
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