Win or Finish? That Is the Question at Dakar!
The jubilee 40th edition of the Dakar Rally is over. Despite the extremely demanding route both racing specials Tatra Phoenix successfully reached the destination, the Argentinean city of Cordoba. Martin Kolomý finally ranked eleventh, despite his eight stage ranks among the top five. Technical issues knocked him right below the top ten ranks. The second pilot of the team, Martin Šoltys, was the greatest surprise of this edition, when as the only newcomer to Dakar in the truck category he managed to finish the race.
“In my opinion this edition was the best we have participated in so far. The organizers prepared a really wonderful race where the decisive factors were not only the level of preparation of the teams but also the terrain which was really demanding,“ praised Jan Kalivoda the French organizers. “I must raise my hat to Martin Šoltys, who coped really excellently for a newcomer. I think a great deal of work on his success was done by the Dakar matador Pepa Kalina, who led Martin through the Dakar pitfalls to the successful finish.“ The jubilee 40yth Dakar Rally was demanding indeed, as is evidenced by the big differences among the top ten pilots and the extreme mortality of the technology. “Looking at the statistics today the difference between the first and the tenth truck is ten hours, while last year the difference was mere four hours. This points to the huge extreme this edition represented, with the result of 19 finishing trucks out of the initial 49-truck starting field. Technical issues were faced by everybody, including the hottest favourites, the decisive thing being where who encountered them. Unfortunately, Martin Kolomý´s bad luck left him with a technical problem in an absolutely inaccessible terrain, albeit mere 20 kilometres before the stage finish,“ reminded Kalivoda of Martin´s trouble in stage three. “We missed the necessary “little bit of luck” which is really needed for a good result at Dakar. To drive for a top ten rank and to drive for the victory is a huge difference. The extreme mortality of the trucks was even faces by such big teams as Kamaz, Iveco or Renault. We are one of the few teams with all, in our case both, racing specials in the finish, and that is also a little victory,“ was the view of this edition by the team manager Jan Kalivoda.
Martin Kolomý was leaving for Peru with much higher ambitions than the final eleventh rank. He struggled for a rank among the best five until the last stage, though. “I am glad Tatra drove us to the final destination of the race. I thought for a little better rank but, unfortunately, technical issues complicated this for us a little. In stage three we encountered a fault in our electrical installation and the repair took over eight hours. Nevertheless, we fought until the end and tried to minimise the loss, which we were quite successful in after all,“ says the native of Bruntál, who managed to move up from rank fourteen to rank seven with an ambition to get among the top five ranks. However, in the very last stage he was knocked down to his knees by a drive shaft defect. “I originally thought only one of the drive shafts was broken so I switched to another mode, but when I realized it did not help, I suspected a disaster. Looking in the rear view mirror I saw diesel splashing out of our truck, and I knew already what was up and that we would be stopped for quite a time,“ described Kolomý, who climbed the imaginary podium after four of this Dakar Rally stages.
Martin Šoltys was one of the biggest surprises of this edition, when he finished the race with twelfth overall rank. “I am enthusiastic about the whole Dakar, the team, how all worked excellently. I will never forget the first five days with the dunes which I was quite nervous about, thinking I would never pass over them. I was even more nervous when we were buried in one of the first dunes on the very first day. I must thank once again to the boys of Adria, who rescued us from there,“ commented the Dakar newcomer on the first trouble he encountered in the race. “My aim was to finish my first Dakar and reach the final destination. We subordinated our driving style to that aim. We drove calmly and did not rush. Each stage was different, first the sand, fech-fech, then mud and finally another hard sandy terrain in Argentina. If I had driven like hell and dropped off soon after the first stage next year I would start from the very beginning and I did not want that. Now I have an idea what I can encounter there and can make use of this experience next time,“ was Martin Šoltys´ view of his first Dakar.
The 26th Dakar participation is also successfully over for the legendary 68-year-old navigator Josef Kalina. “I have no complaints about this Dakar. I have accomplished my two objectives, to lead this crew successfully to the finish and to survive personally. Sometimes the race was very demanding, especially the Argentinean stages, but that is what Dakar is and should be like,“ said Kalina.
The boys of the Adria team arrived at Dakar to make their dream come true. They sacrificed it mere three stages before the finish to help Martin Kolomý to continue. “I think we still made our dream come 100% true. Maybe we even did not expect this depth. When the problem with the rear axle appeared we did not hesitate at all and said yes, no problem. It was a real treat to see the boys changing the axle from one truck to the other in six hours,“ said the navigator Petr Lesák. Paradoxically enough, the only member of the crew with some Dakar experience was its youngest member Filip Škrobánek. “I am absolutely satisfied. When I compare this experience with the previous years when I was a mechanic in the cab, I must say it is great responsibility to be at the steering wheel. That will be my strongest memory,“ said Škrobánek, who alternated as driver with Pavel Vrňák. “All stages were very demanding, when we said to ourselves in the evening that we were over the hardest stage, the following day this was no longer true. We learned a lot there,“ was Vrňák´ assessment of this Dakar edition.
1. Nikolaev KAMAZ 54:57:37
2. Viazovich MAZ +3:57:17
3. Mardeev KAMAZ +5:22:34
4. Ardavichus IVECO +6:38:22
5. Macík LIAZ +7:58:45
11. KOLOMÝ TATRA +13:20:46
12. ŠOLTYS TATRA +21:57:39