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Dakar 2009: Start numbers of Loprais Tatra Team known.

Official starting lists with race numbers have not been released yet but now also the Czech Loprais Tatra Team is proud to know their numbers. Interestingly enough, Dutch crews had received their race number indications ahead enough to put them on cabs as early as at the traditional pre-prologue event at the Valkenswaard circuit. The graphic layout of race numbers will be different due to a new titular sponsor of the event.

Loprais Tatra Team start numbers:

502 Ales Loprais, Milan Holan, Vojtech Stajf
850 Leo Loprais, Michal Ptacek
851 Ladislav Csekey, Lubomír Kypet
913 Karel Loprais, Milan Loprais, Jiri Vintr, Ladislav Lala

Those who have attended the officiel website of the Team for the whole year are not surprised, having seen photos from the test session in Tunisia last year. Neither is it surprising, which pilots are placed in front of Ales Loprais on the starting list. As a peculiarity, Czech trucks used number 502 twice before. In 1992, Karel Loprais brought No. 502 to the stunning third place at Paris - Cape Town race, which for the year replaced the traditional Dakar route. In 1991, it was carried by Josef Kakrda on his Liaz. In spite of a strong performance, he finished far from the podium. Needless to say, Ales looks for an opportunity to take example from his legendary uncle.

The final test session concludes the preparation

Traditionally at the military compound near Senica, Slovakia, Loprais Tatra Team run another round of testing procedures, just before leasing for Dakar 2009. It was the racing special to be the one to be worked on, especially in terms of handling and chassis tuning.

"We have flown as much as possible, on the ground or above it, to our maximum satisfaction. Fox had supplied the fourth evolution of shock absorbers, fourth only this year, and I can only say it is brilliant. We concluded special tests in order to expose them to maximum heat at different driving conditions like rolette, multiple jumps at high speeds or crossing of deep sand ditches, everything is great," pilot Ales Loprais says and continues: "The engine is the sweetheart of this truck, its handling is one level better than ever before. With acceleration from 0 to 100 kph, we are below 12 seconds. With new set of gears, the truck can run close to 200 kph. Of course such a speed cannot be used at the Dakar where the reglement sets the maximum limit of 150 kph. It is not useless, though. Driving at high speeds on the Pampa for a long time at high heats is very demanding and we can thus optimize the revs of the engine."

It was the first test session for the new navigator, Vojta Stajf: "It was my first test, at which I could see the Tatra in motion. Before that, I had only visited the workshop where Ales and Milan Loprais showed me the cab and what its like inside. What surprised and excited me was how the Tatra works in reality from its genuine chassis through brakes to the enormous engine power. It is a real racing machine and it can run for the very top, especially with Ales behind the wheel," he said. At the same time, the racing crew also practiced a wheel replacement: "Understandably, each crew member bears his specific function at this special procedure, so that no time is lost. I believe, though, that our Pirelli tires won’t put us to such a situation too often."

The work is gong on also on assistance vehicles. The new assistance Tatra 815 4x4 did not take part in the Slovak tests and it is just being finished. The long chassis with a high long-distance Tatra cab will be fixed to a new superstructure made by KOV Velim. The superstructure contains not only boxes with accessories but also bedroom space for the racing crew. "The assistance is nearly finished and from Monday we will start loading the Granny 6x6. This final phase of preps is extremely important as well as no crucial spare parts can be forgotten", Ales Loprais concludes.

Those who would like to meet Loprais Tatra Team on its farewell day are surely invited on November 25 to Ostrava (City Hall) and in the afternoon to Prague, Emil Frey Subaru dealership. We’ll be happy to meet you all!

2008/11/20 | 19:32 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Ales Loprais

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