Martin Prokop agrees to drive Overdrive Racing Toyota in 2016 Dakar Rally
Czech rally driver Martin Prokop has reached an agreement with Belgium’s Overdrive Racing and will drive one of their latest specification Toyota Hiluxes at the 2016 Dakar Rally.
The 33-year-old has been a regular competitor on rounds of the prestigious FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) since 2005 and is relishing the challenge of competing in the Dakar for the first time with one of the best teams in the business.
“We wanted a WRC driver as part of the team and we are delighted to welcome Martin aboard for the Dakar,” said Overdrive Racing’s team director Jean-Marc Fortin. “We carried out a test before Morocco recently and I convinced him to drive for us after he saw the WRC-style nature of much of the route of the next Dakar.
“We carried out a small test with him in Belgium this week and the plan is for him to go to Château Lastours in the south of France for two days more testing after Rally Spain and then to Dubai for some desert testing in a T2 car.”
Prokop will drive a similar specification Toyota Hilux to the V8-engined version that will be used by former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers.
Born at Jihlava in the Czech Republic, Prokop began his career competing in the Czech Rally Championship before making his WRC debut in Monte Carlo in 2005. He went on to finish the season ninth in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) and sealed a first JWRC win the following year in Spain.
In 2007, he finished third in the series and secured wins in Germany and Corsica. Then he tackled both the JWRC (third) and the FIA Production World Rally Championship (PWRC - fifth) in 2008. Major success came in 2009 when Prokop won the JWRC title and finished runner-up in PWRC.
He then switched to the SWRC and achieved success on several events, before joining the Czech National Team and, latterly, the Jipocar Czech National Team in the mainstream WRC. Prokop has competed against the best in the world for over five years and achieved numerous top 10 finishes and three outright fastest stage times.
The Dakar will be a totally new challenge for the Czech driver. Rally organisers were forced to completely change the first half of the route of the event after Peru withdrew its support in the summer.
The event will now start in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires on January 2nd and finish in the city of Rosario on January 16th after crossing much of northern Argentina and Bolivia.