When during Stage 10 of the 2018 edition of Dakar Rally, Czech Republic’s Tomáš Ouředníček gave a rope to his compatriot Martin Prokop pulling out Prokop’s Ford and thus saving his race, certainly neither of them knew that in a few months Ouředníček would receive a rope from Prokop. "We agreed to set out as the second crew in Martin's MP-Sports team in the 2019 Dakar Rally," Ouředníček said.
The situation of the usually hectic preparations is also described by the Jihlava driver and team leader Martin Prokop: "Immediately after the end of the Dakar, I said that for fighting for the top positions it’s necessary to have more than one car in the team so that we can cope with difficult moments together. It’s clear that such times often happen to everyone, and that the top 20 drivers don’t help each other keeping their own result in mind is also a fact. Therefore, it is a great experience for us to have in our team Tomáš Ouředníček, who was the only one stopping for us when our alternator broke down and Shrek stopped. Without him pulling us to the team mechanics, we would stand there now. For Dakar 2019, we have built a new evolution of the Raptor F-150, so our proven Shrek is available for a second crew. "
Ouředníček finished this year's South American Dakar, along with co-driver David Křípal in the colours of South Racing, but in April, during the first big race of the season, the crew suffered a horror accident. "At the end of the first stage of Morocco Desert Challenge, we were about a hundred metres from the finish when we were thrown by an unmarked hole at a speed of 180 km/h, and the car stopped only after an endless fourteen seconds, rolling on its roof nine times," recalls the driver. It’s a real miracle that both crew members survived the crash with just some bruises, but their Ford Ranger was not that lucky: it was damaged completely. As the 2019 edition of Dakar approached, Ouředníček and Křípal had to realise that while they were fit for the new challenge, they still had no racing car. "We've started to rebuild the Ranger from scratch, we could only use the gearbox and the differential from the wreckage. We already have an engine, but that’s not yet tested," Ouředníček explains the current situation.
However, the same five-litre 8-cylinder Ford Mustang engine awaited them only some kilometres away, in a workshop in Jihlava in the proven Ford Raptor of MP-Sports team. The car nicknamed “Shrek” was the very same vehicle Martin Prokop drove to an overall silver medal in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies this season and it was now waiting for a crew who would cover the back of Martin Prokop and Jan Tománek in South America. "Martin Prokop is a very good and experienced driver, he put together a really top team and the offer to go with him as a second crew, we couldn’t reject. Of course, our task will be to help Martin, and we definitely have a chance to succeed together. We have great cars and a great team, Martin is incredibly good in the dunes, and it will definitely be a good match in Peru," says Ouředníček.
MP-Sports manager Quirin Müller adds: "We talked to Tomas a few times during the year at several races, but he had plans with his team. We also had several other crews on our mind, but none of them was really willing to cover Martin's back during the Dakar in January. I'm glad we teamed up with Tomas, even if in the last minute. I believe that Martin's proven old car can reliably transport our second crew over the dunes, and that Martin and Jenda won’t need their help at all. Tomáš and David will be more of a psychological support and a certainty behind them."
The Jihlava-based team MP-Sports unites two of the most successful Czech participants of the Dakar rally in the car category to go together to the Peruvian dunes in January: Martin Prokop and Jan Tománek, who scored a fantastic seventh place in Dakar Rally this year, and Tomáš Ouředníček, who also reached the same position as a co-driver with Miroslav Zapletal in 2009. Ouředníček switched to the driver’s seat in 2014, finishing as runner-up in FIA Central European Zone Championship right in his rookie year and went on to winning his category in the Hungarian Championship two times. His biggest success as driver so far has been the victory in the 2017 Morocco Desert Challenge, his first race together with co-driver David Křípal.
The three-vehicle line-up of MP-Sports is completed by the T4 assistance truck with the crew Filip Škrobánek, Petr Lesák and Radim Baculík on board.
The legendary Dakar Rally will only take place in Peru in 2019 and will feature ten stages of a total distance of five thousand kilometres between 6 to 17 January.
Source: MP-Sports press release