Kolomý Reminds of 30th Anniversary of Tatra, Prologue Cancelled for Accident
Like every race the Dakar Rally must also start with Drivers´ Briefing. For this purpose the auditorium of the Dakar village in Tecnopolis welcomed 347 crews, or 560 pilots and co-pilots. The Briefing was presided by the manager of the competition Etienne Lavigne, whose speech was followed by a stormy applause of the audience. Unique features of this year include the record number of newcomers, who are 70. Also the name of the youngest pilot has changed. The new youngest participant in the race is the eighteen-year-old Sheldon Creed, member of Robbie Gordon crew in a Gordini.
Like every year the local fans enjoyed the ceremonial start as a great show taking place not in the city centre but inside the Dakar village in Tecnopolis this year. Martin Kolomý and Kilian brothers commemorated 30th anniversary of the Tatra automobile factory participation in the famous Dakar competition. “The Ramp is a fantastic opportunity. This year we made use of the unique atmosphere for a presentation of Tatra celebrating the round 30th anniversary at Dakar. This number tells everything. This was all for the day in the end, no Prologue, and so we only drove the less than 400 km of the transfer to Rosario. It is sad and I only hope all will be all right again,” said Kolomý.
A prologue was scheduled for Saturday to determine the starting order of the first regular racing day. The prologue was cancelled, though, when in the course of the sixth kilometre of the route the vehicle of the Chinese female pilot Kuo Mej-Ling with starting number 360 was shot off the track among the spectators. The organizers immediately sent four rescue helicopters and eight ambulances to the place of the accident. There are four serious injuries according to the official reports. “I sincerely looked forward to testing my Phoenix a little, and so I am disappointed. But I do understand that human life is above and over all racing. Unfortunately, movement forward will cost us a lot of time and efforts. We cannot do anything but fight,” said Jaroslav Valtr, who is facing his premiere with Tatra at Dakar.
“We learned the news about the cancelled prologue right before its start. We already had our helmets on and were prepared to start the engines. Then one of the organizers came to inform us that all was over. Various information spread around, including that some small children were killed in the accident, so when the official report was released we all heaved a sigh of relief,” added Tomáš Ouředníček to Valtr´s comment. Tomáš will start with a Hummer H3 Evo.
The first regular stage of the race from Rosario to Villa Carlos Paz will be in total 662 kilometres long, with 258 measured kilometres for cars and trucks. “The weather forecast for Sunday says “heavy rain” and so I only hope things will not be that dramatic and the boys will eventually be allowed to start racing,“ revealed up-to-date weather forecast the team manager Jan Kalivoda.