Jan 03, 2020
Loprais and his crew tested Praga and shovels in dunes
Instaforex Loprais Team had two important days of testing with their Praga V4S DKR. The new rally truck has undergone its first real test in the desert, in the same conditions that Aleš Loprais, Khalid Alkendi and Petr Pokora will face in Dakar Rally over the next two weeks.
On the New Year’s Day, the Instaforex Loprais Team collected its racing and support vehicles in Jeddah’s harbour. From there, they headed straight to the desert for a shakedown and they had already begun to discover the first specifics of Saudi Arabia.
“The diesel cost was very pleasant, just about 4 Czech crowns [$0.18] per litre. But there was a different problem – we had nowhere to refuel as it was either a time of prayers or there was no diesel available. So, we had to wait until it arrived,” explained Loprais’ onboard mechanic Petr Pokora.
Despite this small delay, the team managed to start testing on Wednesday. The test took place on a 15-kilometre long loop that consisted of several types of terrains, all of which are part of the Dakar 2020 route. After the opening section with a stony track, it turned to sandy parts and medium-sized technical dunes. Even including some places with loose sand.
“We were the first ones to arrive at the shakedown, so we could enjoy a nice and clean desert. The terrain is a true Dakar one. On the second day, we tested together with Kamaz, which gave us an interesting comparison, especially with so many of them following each other,” said Aleš Loprais.
The new Praga V4S DKR has done around 100 kilometres and the crew had to deal with only one problem. But it had nothing to do with the truck’s reliability.
“I’ve got to admit one thing. For the first time since I’m racing with Aleš, we had managed to dig in during the first day. So, we had to take the shovels out and dig the truck up,” admitted Petr Pokora with a smile.
“But it was a small detail. The important thing is, that we’ve tested the truck in difficult and hot conditions. And it’s been excellent. We’ve been getting used to the terrain and the Praga truck, which is a bit different to our previous one.”
“We have really good cooperation with Khalid because he is calm, very friendly and manually skilled,” continued Pokora as he praised the team’s navigator Alkendi.
“We’re just finishing some little details like speed limiters or camel bags. There’s still a lot of work to do, but on Friday, we will just practice tyre changes, we will wash everything and then let the Navitel to take us to the place of technical scrutineering,” explained Aleš Loprais the team’s plans.
Loprais Team is spending two nights in the desert and so far, he has no complaints about the weather. While the temperature rises above 30°C during the day, it drops slightly below 20°C in the night. The preliminary warnings, that Saudi Arabia might be a bit colder in January, has not been fulfilled yet.
The ceremonial start of Dakar Rallye 2020 takes place on Saturday, January 4, in Jeddah. The first stage is planned for the next day and it won’t be any kind of a practice run like in the previous years. On the contrary, the route between Jeddah and Al Wajh is the third longest stage of the whole rally with 752 kilometres and it includes a special stage of 319 kilometres.
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