Tatra trucks go to traditional long-distance vehicles competitions in Saudi Arabia and Africa

3 January, 2024

The famous Dakar Rally will mark the start of its 46th edition in early 2024. This will take place specifically on 5 January in the city of Al-Ula, and the competition will conclude a fortnight later in Yanbu. Riders will be treated to 60 percent new routes and other innovations in Saudi Arabia. Of course, the crews of the Tatra Buggyra Racing team or other Tatra vehicles will not be absent among the competitors. At the beginning of the new year, the Africa Eco Race will also start, and Tomáš Tomeček will once again be taking his Tatra to its stages.

Dakar Rally 2024

Every beginning of the year is traditionally associated with the Dakar Rally, a long-distance marathon for motoring fans. It has been held for many years in the Middle East, and this year it will be hosted by Saudi Arabia. Participants will be treated to a series of brand new, sharply timed stages and crossings, and even one special 48-hour marathon stage, which will take place in the fourth largest sandy desert in the world, named the Rub al-Khali. The challenging conditions will once again be tackled by the Tatra Buggyra Racing team, which will send three Tatra competition trucks to Saudi Arabia. Last year, three crews with Tatra vehicles made it into the top ten, this year they have at least the same ambitions, but the highest goal is to win the proverbial Bedouin. Achieving this milestone would also be a nice celebration of the 35th anniversary of the first Tatra victory at the famous Dakar in early 2024. It was in 1988 that Karel Loprais and his crew won for the first time at the Pink Lake.

In the upcoming edition of the Dakar Rally, the experienced Martin Šoltys was to sit in the cockpit of the new Tatra Buggyra Evo 3 with the starting number 605, together with Tomas Šikola and Petr Schweiner. Unfortunately, Martin Šoltys was injured in the last stage of the preparation, so he will be replaced by the Dutchman Pascal de Baar in the pilot's seat, while another Dutchman Gijsbert Verschoor will replace Petr Schweiner as navigator. The Tatra Phoenix with the starting number 604 will be piloted by Jaroslav Valtr, who will be assisted in the cockpit by René Kilián and David Kilián.The second Phoenix with the number 626 will be ridden for the first time by the crew of Daniel Stiblík, Lukáš Kvasnica and Jiří Tomec.

Tatra Buggyra Racing's crew for the Dakar 2024:

#604 - Jaroslav Valtr, René Kilián, David Kilián (Tatra Phoenix)
#605 - Pascal de Baar, Gijsbert Verschoor, Tomáš Šikola (Tatra Buggyra Evo 3)
#626 - Daniel Stiblík, Lukaš Kvasnica, Jiří Tomec (Tatra Phoenix)

A special feature of Dakar 2024 for the Tatra Buggyra Racing team is the deployment of a brand new Tatra Buggyra Evo 3 on the Tatra Jamal chassis. The Tatra Buggyra Evo 3 is the third generation of the Dakar trucks created in cooperation between the Tatra Buggyra Racing team and the Tatra Trucks factory in Kopřivnice. "Its development took two years. However, due to the late release of the FIA technical regulations for this category, the completion of the truck started only two months before the departure for the embarkation of the equipment in Barcelona," explained Jan Kalivoda, manager of the Tatra Buggyra Racing team. Nevertheless, the new vehicle was put together in time and the first tests were held. "It may sound unreal, but we had no problems at all during the tests. We were just sorting out the details," said Martin Šoltys, who tested the Tatra Buggyra Evo 3 before Dakar.

Artificial intelligence has helped the design team in the development of the truck, for example in calculating the overall weight distribution of the vehicle and the shape of the body. Chief designer David Vršecký admits that AI has given him a new perspective on building a race car. The important thing is the task. Our data is specific and very complex. And only with the right input can you get a good result." In addition to artificial intelligence, virtual reality was also used in the design of the truck.

The Fesh Fesh team will also send a Tatra-branded vehicle to sand dunes and rocky terrains. It will be the Tatra Jamal with pilot Vaidotas Pashkevicius, who managed to win one stage in the last edition of the Dakar, accompanied by Gytis Gaspariuna and Albert Veliamovic in the cockpit. Other crews are also connected with the Tatra brand. The seasoned matador Aleš Loprais will start with the Praga V4S, which is built on a Tatra chassis, and similarly, the Ford Cargo Evo I special of Andorran Albert Llover from the Fesh Fesh team, which is also built on a Tatra chassis.

Africa Eco Race 2024

The penultimate day of last year also saw the inauguration of the second legendary endurance motoring competition, the Africa Eco Race. This is the 15th edition of the event, which was established in 2008 and is a continuation of the original African Dakar Rally. The first stage starts today, January 2, from the Moroccan port of Nador, and the race will finish on January 14 at the Pink Lake near Dakar. The stages and crossings will cover a total of 6,000 km, two-thirds of which will be timed sections. Tomas Tomecek will be at the start of the race in a Tatra 815 in the colours of the Promet/Czechoslovak Group team. Tomáš Tomeček prepares his truck for the competition with the support of the Tatra Trucks, while Czechoslovak Group and Promet Group have been partners of Tomáš Tomeček for several racing seasons and this connection has brought him a lot of success. Overall, Tomáš Tomeček has a record of four wins, three second and three third places in the Africa Eco Race.

Moreover, for the fifth time Tomáš Tomeček is heading into the challenging African terrains in the cab of his truck all alone, without a navigator and a technician. Thanks to this, he has earned the nickname Desert Master or Captain Solo among his rivals. Tomeček's team consists of four vehicles, besides the competition twelve-cylinder Tatra 815, there are also other Tatras, an assistant truck and two collection trucks nicknamed "Balai", which help the participants in trouble. In one of them, Tomáš's son, Metoděj Tomeček, will be gaining experience.

"Tomáš Tomeček is one of the racing legends associated with the Tatra brand, so we are honoured to be his partner. His sporting achievements help to spread the good name of Tatra and the Czechoslovak Group and Promet Group companies associated with it and we hope that he will succeed in this year's Africa Eco Race. We wish him a lot of strength and endurance, and also luck, all of which he will definitely need in the cabin of his Tatra on the way to the Pink Lake," said Andrej Čírtek, spokesman for Czechoslovak Group.