Tatra launches T 162 Karel project

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Credit: Tatra

For two decades, Karel Loprais was one of the top truck racers at the Paris–Dakar Rally as he won the category six times in his Tatra 815. In his honour, Tatra Trucks announced Tuesday that they have started Projekt T 162 “Karel”, an effort to build the Tatra T 162.

The Tatra T 162 was conceived in 1988, the same year that Loprais won the Dakar for the first time, as a heavy dump truck intended to replace the 815. Naturally, the manufacturer also hoped to bring it to the Dakar Rally with Loprais. Although a prototype was created, it never entered production and was replaced by the T 163 Jamal.

The Karel, named in tribute to Loprais, is a rally raid version of the 162, featuring a twelve-cylinder engine at the rear; this was designed to help Tatra keep pace with other truck powerhouses at the Dakar like the twin-engined DAF. However, it will be modernised to accommodate for technological advances in the four decades since.

While parent Tatra Trucks a.s. is greenlighting the effort, it is still a side project for employees, which the company analogises to Formula Student programmes at universities. The research and development and technical departments will lead the project. Over two dozen employees are involved.

Loprais, who worked for Tatra growing up, won the Paris–Dakar Rally in 1988, 1994 to 1994, 1998 to 1999, and 2001. His final Dakar was in 2006 before retiring, and he passed away in December 2021 at the age of 72. His nephew Aleš Loprais is also a rally raider who finished runner-up in the 2024 Dakar Rally’s Truck class, though he drives a Praga.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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