Hungarian Baja 2017: Podium at Any Cost Was No Priority
Last weekend of the Tatra Buggyra Racing team was marked by another edition of the World Cross Country Championship, the Hungarian Baja. Although the newly combined crew consists of Šoltys, Kalina and Šikola did not finish their premiere race, their performance brought overall satisfaction.
The performance of the new crew consisting of absolute newcomers, pilot Martin Šoltys and board mechanic Tomáš Šikola, plus the ageless veteran Josef Kalina, supported in Hungary by the presence of Martin Kolomý, still waiting for return of his technology from the Silk Way Rally, exceeded expectations. “As we said before the race, from our point of view this year´s Hungarian Baja was not about the final result but about Dakar potential of the newly combined crew. At this moment they seem to be able to work well together, which is more important for me from the strategic point of view than a podium rank at any cost,“ explains the team manager Jan Kalivoda. And yet a podium rank appeared quite real still after a tyre puncture suffered by Tatra Phoenix piloted by Martin Šoltys in a high speed in the last but one stage and accompanied with some failures of the steering system. “The boys led the field until that moment and so we asked ourselves whether to restore operability of the truck or rather no to try the fate and Martin´s strained back. Although the failures were easy to repair we decided for the latter variant,” confirms David Vršecký, refusing to reveal the result of the vote. “At that moment democracy was replaced by authority. Nothing against the Hungarian Baja, but this crew and Phoenix are about to face bigger challenges.“
The management decision was supported by Josef Kalina. “I was to perform the role of navigator and kind of mentor in one person. I last raced with a thus inexperienced crew when I began at Dakar, which is really a very long time ago. If I am nominated for Dakar, I will be glad to try it with them again, and that is my evaluation of their quality. Martin demonstrated mastering the combination of tactic and extreme driving, and Tomáš kept calm all the time, working precisely. Of course, Dakar is about something completely different, but the boys do have their talents for the job.“
Despite certain disappointment about unfinished premiere race Martin Šoltys was finally happy as well. “The original purpose was to get acquainted with Phoenix, then I suddenly found myself in the lead and held it for long. But in one moment there was the stone in the way, and a big bang, which painfully hit my back and punched a front tyre, but overall, our Hungarian mission was successful”, stated the pilot after a couple of hours. “I do not know whether I can express any evaluation, considering my limited experience, but I must say my team fitted together very well and Phoenix proved it could sometimes even fly.“