After a flawless day, Dakar newcomer Aliyyah Koloc finishes 7th in the T3 category
After suffering issues for the first three days of the Dakar, finally stage 4 showed a lot of goodwill for 18-year-old Aliyyah Koloc. The pilot, racing for Buggyra ZM Academy, finished a sensational seventh in the T3 category. Jaroslav Valtr in the Tatra Phoenix battled through the challenging dunes and after setting eighth best time, he holds an excellent third position overall. His teammate Martin Šoltys set the fifth best time today in his Tatra 815 and is seventh overall.
Aliyyah Koloc was beaming with happiness after stepping out of her Buggyra Can-AM DV 21. "It was a great day. We had more sand than for the previous days which suits me. The track was fast. We started more at the front with the other T3 category cars. I fought with Cristina Gutiérrez and we finished together," said Aliyyah, 40th overall in the T3 - Light Prototypes category, beating the experienced Spaniard by almost a minute and a half. "There were no problems with the car, we didn't have any puncture. After all the problems at the beginning, I have now experienced the beautiful side of Dakar. I would like to continue like this," said a very happy Aliyyah.
Her navigator Stéphane Duplé was also enthusiastic: "It was a good day at last. We overtook several competitors and Ali drove great. She was flying like the wind on the sand and in the dunes."
A big tribute to Aliyyah Koloc was paid by her mentor David Vršecký: "Aliyyah deserved this result. To be in the top 10 on what is her first Dakar and only the fourth stage is a total blast. She started from a great position, she drove absolutely great. She was fighting with Guttierez whom I consider to be an absolute top racer. And in the end, she beat her. Aliyyah was absolutely thrilled at the finish. We're excited, too, because she had a really tough start to the Dakar. She finished in the dark, in the rain. This year the start of the event was very tough," said the Buggyra chief designer.
Josef Macháček admitted that in his twenty-year history of the Dakar, he had never driven so long in wet sand. "The dunes alternated with steep descents. We raced in wet sand practically all day. It's a completely new experience. Wet sand is worse than loose sand because it takes a lot of power out of the machine," explained Machacek who came 19th in the T3 - Light Prototypes category today, making him 12th overall.
Jaroslav Valtr arrived exhausted at the finish. In addition to the battle with the sand, he also had to deal with discomfort in the cockpit. "There were heavy dunes on the track. Some of them were difficult to tackle, so it was easier to go around them. Then we got to the fast passages which we managed well until we had a puncture. It was so strange. We didn't even know what we'd hit. In the end, both of our cabin dampers were destroyed, so we went over 200km without dampers. We are completely exhausted and fed up today," explained Jaroslav Valtr their day.
Martin Šoltys, the second driver racing for Tatra Buggyra ZM Racing, had a good day on the track with start and finish in Háil. "It was tough, but a great drive. In the second half, we caught up with the Lithuanians in their Tatra, and until the finish we were overtaking each other and had a great time. We are also thrilled to have reached the finish of the stage in daylight," he said.
Robert Kasák, in the second Tatra Phoenix, suffered technical problems at the start but he is not losing his good spirits and wants to continue fighting the difficult conditions of the Dakar. "We are continuing on the Dakar. We will continue with a penalty but we will go on. That's just how the Dakar is. Anything can happen, and it may have saved us from something else," believes the Slovakian Tatra Buggyra driver.
Pending offical results, Radovan Kazarka is third in the Dakar Classic standings in his category. "In the morning, my accelerator pedal stuck to the ground but the mechanics fixed it. I was just worried for the whole stage if it would hold. The track was rugged. The Classic is more challenging this year than it was a year ago. But we're enjoying it."