Due to an injury just over a week before the 2024 Dakar Rally, Martin Šoltys will have to follow the race from the sidelines. Pascal de Baar has been entrusted with his #605 Tatra Buggyra Evo3, competing in the Truck category for Tatra Buggyra ZM Racing.
De Baar was originally scheduled to drive the #614 MAN assistance truck for Team Boucou Assistance. He won a stage at the 2023 Dakar Rally with Riwald Dakar Team, but a late mechanical issue dropped him to sixteenth overall in class. He departed the since-renamed Jongbloed Dakar Team for 2024 as owner Gert Huzink wanted to focus on his own truck.
“I appreciate the fact that Buggyra boss Martin Koloc approached me,” said de Baar. “Tatra has had a great name in Dakar for decades, and it is an honour to drive such an exceptional vehicle as the new Tatra Buggyra Evo3. Even though I will only get to know it just before the start of the event, I believe I will be an asset to the team.”
Gijsbert Verschoor will follow de Baar to Buggyra as his navigator, though Šoltys’ partner Tomáš Šikola remains onboard as the mechanic. Engbert Wingens replaces de Baar in the #614, hoping to rebound after retiring from both Dakar and the Rallye du Maroc in 2023.
Šoltys’ injury means he will not be able to build upon his fifth-place finish in 2023. He and fellow Buggyra driver Jaroslav Valtr were the highest-placing non-IVECO trucks at Dakar, the latter finishing a spot ahead in fourth.
“To miss the début of the Tatra Buggyra Evo3 just before the start is indescribable,” Šoltys commented. “I am very sorry to have made things so difficult for the team. It’s a shame, but that’s part of the sport. Now I have to focus on treating my injuries and I will keep my fingers crossed for the whole team, at least from home.”
Valtr and Daniel Stiblík will race Tatra Phoenixes for Buggyra at Dakar, while De Baar’s Evo3 is an upgraded model of the Tatra 815 that Šoltys raced in 2023. The team is also fielding a Red-Lined Revo T1+ for Koloc’s daughter Aliyyah Koloc in the Ultimate category.
The Dakar Rally kicks off on 5 January.