Kolomý Welcomed at the Airport by Colleagues Vršecký and Lacko
Prague - At hole at last! Great relief was seen on the members of the Tatra Buggyra Racing team immediately after their plane landed on the Prague runway. The pilot Martin Kolomý and his crew returned to the Czech lands after three weeks. One of the most difficult years of the extreme long-distance competition called Dakar Rally is behind them and so a welcoming committee was prepared on the Ruzyně Airport. The team spirit was supported by the presence of colleagues from the Buggyra team Adam Lacko and David Vršecký, who received the silver Gold Steering Wheel a couple of hours later. Media representatives were also present. At the subsequent discussion all again smiled all around and sparkled with jokes.
"Most of all I am looking forward to a good meal. What about a pork, dumplings and cabbage?" asked with his typical smile the pilot Martin Kolomý, heading from Terminal 1 where they got off the plane of the line from London to the hotel on the opposite side of the street for the first exclusive discussion on Dakar 2014 theme.
Experiences were many and certainly would fill several hours of continuous talking after this year. As the pictures of Kolomý ending a stage on three wheels spread all over the world, all were mainly interested in an authentic description of the sequence of events leading to the incredible situation. "I was sitting in the middle and after a hit the boys said we probably had a defect. I only said that this would not be a defect, that something would be missing down there," started the funny description of the story the co-pilot David Kilián. The crew jumped up and went to collect the torn off front wheel. "The rules say that you are not allowed to leave anything on the track, and so I went to load the wheel, but first we had to extinguish the fire of the wheel. The locals helped us with this but when after grasping the hot wheel in their bare hands blisters appeared on their palms, they were surprised. They forgot a little that the wheel was damn hot," laughed the talking Kolomý. When the navigator René Kilián said that the remaining part of the route could be covered on three wheels, nobody hesitated for a moment. "You can imagine that the truck is not balanced to stand safely on three wheels and to the rule was: if you do not pull, you will not drive. And so I had to press the accelerator hard," described the pilot.
But when cracks on the front axle appeared, due to which the decision was made not to continue in the race, all agreed on the fact that this was the hardest moment of the whole Dakar. The risks were obvious. "We always do our best to have the truck well prepared for the stage but when you know that you start with an already existing problem it is a real scrape," explained the technical director of Buggyra Robin Dolejš. The team was well aware of the potential tragic consequences. They all remembered how in an accident in 2011 Martin Kolomý suffered a broken vertebra. "I have already tried Salta hospitals and I am not interested in repeating this experience. When I saw the cracks I knew that was the end of the race this year. When in the course of the race mere twenty centimetres away there is a three hundred meter deep hole you do realize the risks. And I know I would say the same even if we were leading the interim ranking," said Kolomý, adding that watching the remaining racers in the following stages was unpleasant. "I came to Dakar as a racing pilot not as a viewer."
Despite certain technical difficulties the new racing special was praised by everybody. For the first time in history Tatra obtained a suspended cab. "This is a great improvement. One is not that battered," noted David Kilián. Great enthusiasm was mainly connected with use of the new and high-performance Gyrtech engine. "Since we got it I have used the truck as a motocross motorcycle. The bigger the hole I can see in front of me the more I press the accelerator to fly over it," said Kolomý, whose storied evoked either bursts of laughter or head turning in disbelief. When the air compressor failed in the course of the first half of stage 5, and the truck did not brake, change gears and virtually did not function without air, Kolomý still managed to drive for another fifty kilometres to the neutral zone before he started with repairs. "What is the use of braking when you race? He who brakes loses," was the peculiar narrative of Kolomý.
To compare to the victorious Kamazs will be very demanding and details are many. For example Kamazs fill their tanks directly for the measured sections while most of the others once a day. "There is no other way. We cannot equal their background yet. Our tank capacity is 780 litres and that is barely enough. The weight of the diesel is another decisive aspect in the race, which becomes ever quicker," reminded Kolomý.
For the Tatra Buggyra Racing team Dakar Rally 2015 will start immediately after landing at home after this Dakar 2014. "In truck racing we address performance details, for Dakar we have to address reliability. We do virtually the same thing twice and each time completely differently. Our main effort for the next Dakar will be to spare the crew jumping from the truck on the way and picking things that have fallen off. We would like to make all the components to stick on the vehicle from beginning to end. And we have to start right now, this is another long-distance run," said the technical director Robin Dolejš, adding that the team have collected a lot of remarks and suggestions for improvement for the next year, one of the most important ones being improvement of the logistic and communication system. The number of testing kilometres will also be considerably increased. "We have to work hard, but all may be defeated, even Kamazs, so look forward to next year," added Martin Kolomý.