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Dakar 2009: Loprais Tatra heading for Dakar at full strength.

Almost two years have gone since the mighty return of Tatra brand and Ales Loprais on the podium as he took the Dakar bronze in 2007. Whereas at that time, Ales made his debut as a cross-country rally driver, he has quickly grown to be a member of top-class truck drivers, fully respected by both general and expert public. In the meantime, Ales placed third at Central Europe Rally and won the Hungarian Baja. He has also been very much involved in a systematic development of his truck and team and took part in the negotiations about the future of the truck category at the green table.

Dakar 2009 will top two years of development efforts or at least it will be their next level. The racing Tatra 815 4x4 has remained in its essence the same vehicle as prepared for Dakar 2008. However, the gradual upgrade of all components has shifted it higher, speaking of new shock absorbers setup, the engine power and torque curve, weight distribution and the general perception of handling qualities. "The truck is at least one class or level better than it was in the spring, the power and handling difference is enormous. That is one reason we can be rather very optimistic before the start. We have identified those qualities that made the lag between us and our main competitors and we have focused primarily on them. Feelings and expectations are great", Ales Loprais said.

An important change has occurred in the cab as well. After two races with Ladislav Lala being a navigator, Dakar 2009 will witness another navigator premiere of a well known Czech rally driver, Vojtech Stajf. "Devoting my full time to Dakar means a lot of time and traveling and it is not easy to match with my regular job. In addition, I started commenting the FIM Wolrd Championships for the Czech Television and I would like to stick with that for the future. I am very glad for this chance t be part of the team and I really appreciate being able to continue with the team as a journalist. My goal is to write a book about the Dakar and to spread its spirit further", Ladislav Lala added.

The way of Vojtech Stajf to Ales Loprais has lead through marketing events organized by companies who by chance sponsor the teams of both drivers. Stajf, originally a rally journalist and a navigator in classic rallying, will get his first taste as a navigator in cross-country events. "Of course I have a huge amount of respect and understanding for a race as big as Dakar is. But I have learned a lot already, both as a pilot and a navigator. I my opinion, a good driver should have a full understanding of rally navigation as well. Then and only then, both jobs can be fulfilled with enough understanding of what the other one expects. I have never taken part in racing just to be there, my ambition have always been high. I will do
my best to help Ales and the team", Stajf adds.

The vehicle lineup for Dakar 2009 is one racing truck, two assistance trucks and one press car. Needless to say, the mechanic and the racing crew is still Milan Holan who has done most of the development works on the new truck.

The assistance backup needs a gradual development as well. The three-axle Tatra 815 6x6 "Granny" will transport heavy parts and will be driven by a duo of Mechanics, Leo Loprais (son of Karel Loprais) and Michal Ptacek. There will be a premiere of a new assistance vehicle, Tatra 815 4x4 with a long wheelbase of 4.5 meters and a new superstructure. The truck will be driven by Ladislav Csekey and Lubomir Kypet. The superstructure is equipped both for the transport of parts and spare tires but it also includes a bedroom space for the racing crew. Keeping fit and in shape is always important in long rallies like Dakar.

The press crew of four members will be at the helm of the silver Nissan Navara. Of course the driver will be the legendary Karel Loprais, a six-time Dakar winner, with his brother Milan, team manager. The duo of correspondents and photographers, Jiri Vintr and Ladislav Lala will be in charge for informing everyone around what’s up in the world of Loprais Tatra Team.

Vojta Stajf becomes the new navigator for Ales Loprais

Dakar 2009 is to witness a debut of Vojta Stajf in marathon rallying. The successful Czech rally driver and motojournalist is to become the new navigator for Ales Loprais.

Vojta’s racing career is linked to classic rallying, in which he has proved his class behind the wheel of production-class Subaru Impreza, with which he took the second place in the Czech championship of 2006. He has been a rally driver since 1999 and before that he had been a navigator for four years. As a pilot he switched different car models, from Opel Astra GSi (Czech champion in N/2000), Ford Escort, Mitsubishi Lancer and the recent Subaru Impreza. As one of a few, he has learned in detail the work of a rally pilot and a navigator. As a motojounalist he worked for Skoda Motorsport as a press atache in 2000-2001 and is active in production of TV motor programs.

2008/11/03 | 16:01 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Ales Loprais

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