|The brand-new vehicle will be driven by the trio of Martin Šoltys (sixth in the Dakar this January), Tomáš Šikola, and Petr Schweiner. Jaroslav Valtr, defending his fifth place, also has big ambitions. He will be accompanied by René and David Kilián in the cockpit of the proven Phoenix. Daniel Stiblík, Lukáš Kvasnica, and Jiří Tomec make up the third Buggyra crew.
“The building of the truck was significantly delayed due to the FIA regulations issued in the summer. The fact that we managed to get the third generation of our Tatra ready for the Dakar and for it to leave in time for embarkation in Barcelona is a small miracle. Two months ago, we were far from being ready. Then started the intense phase of completing all of that year’s work and a year’s preparation,” said Jan Kalivoda, Buggyra ZM Racing’s Head of Communication at the launch of the Tatra Buggyra Evo3 at the Buggyra Technology Center in Roudnice nad Labem close to Prague in the Czech Republic.
At first glance, the most significant change is the conventional cabin. This is a revolutionary new feature in Buggyra‘s off-road trucks. But there are plenty of changes under the bonnet too.
“We’ve seen that a conventional cabin like this is the way to go for today’s trucks. During the summer, we already tried the new parts in a test with the Tatra 815 and therefore know that the new truck is built solidly with good components. The next step will be the Dakar which will heavily test the functionality and durability of our trucks. We don’t have big ambitions for the Evo3 regarding the result. We are going to get as much experience as we can. The goal is to reach the finish line and collect as much data as possible at every stage,” added Kalivoda.
In addition to the engineers and mechanics, Martin Šoltys, the driver of the new truck, also participated considerably in the development of the new truck. “I have been at the Buggyra Technology Center almost constantly for the last two months. It has been very challenging, but I would like to thank the mechanics in particular. They were here all the time too. Thanks to them, an incredible thing was done, and the truck is ready,” said Šoltys.
Due to time constraints, no major testing could be done. But even two days of driving in a quarry gave Martin enough confidence in the new truck.
“Unbelievable as it may sound, we had no problems at all during the tests. We just worked out the details. For example, one of our lights stopped working. But otherwise, the truck worked perfectly. 80% of the truck is Phoenix. It’s got our proven engine, the same transmission, the same chassis. What’s changed, and for the better, are the coil spring shocks. It’s a new generation and they’re great,” said Šoltys, who was given start number 605 by the organizers. „Although the most important thing in Saudi Arabia in January will be to get the data, it would be nice to finish in the top 3,” says Martin Šoltys.
Jaroslav Valtr with number 604 will start his eighth Dakar Rally. Like the whole team, he is going through a very hectic period. “Final preparations and packing are underway. You don’t even have time to look forward to the event. I tested the car for two days last week and it was great, so I believe I will enjoy the Dakar too,” he said.
His Tatra Phoenix has undergone a complete overhaul in addition to the engine performance boost. “Our car is in excellent shape and works well. The axles, the descent, and the gearbox have all been overhauled. Before the Dakar, my main focus will be on the reliability of the truck and its proven parts.”
Daniel Stiblík, Lukáš Kvasnica, and Jiří Tomec will be driving the Tatra Phoenix number 626, and their main task will be to help Martin and Jaroslav. “The last Dakar taught us that such quick assistance is definitely useful,” explained Jan Kalivoda.
The Dakar Rally takes place in Saudi Arabia from January 5 to 19, 2024. It starts in the city of Al-Ula, crosses the country towards the legendary Empty Quarter, and finishes in Yanbu on the shores of the Red Sea.