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Praga Brings New Generation of Drivers

Praga Brings New Generation of Drivers

At 5 they were driving karts and now at 16 they are beating the pros in supersport racing.  They are the racing talents of Europe and they train in Slovakia!

High octane childhood

While other kids stay at home and play football or chat on Facebook, they are behind the wheel on the racetracks. They have grown up with the noise of motors and the smell of petrol and burning rubber. They wear HANS equipment around their necks instead of necklaces and flame-retardant suits instead of jeans and t-shirts. Racing has become their only desire, entertainment and reason for being. These are young and talented racers from 16 to 26, who have been honing their racing skills since they were very young and have gone on to become champions of various tracks. Very few really know that future champions are growing up here in Slovakia at the Slovakia Ring in Orechova Poton.

New generation program

Professional racing is a real cut-throat sport. Not only financially; drivers also have to master complex preparations and other demanding skills. Young racers from across Europe completed such preparation guided by experienced professionals just a few minutes from Bratislava at the Slovakia Ring track in the specialized New Praga Generation Program. This program is one of the results of the Czech and Slovak union of racing professionals in the PRAGA Racing holding company with the strong support of Slovakia Ring as the main sponsor. The Slovak part of PRAGA is specialized in car racing – it has mastered automotive technology and the art of coaching drivers; Czech PRAGA is among the world’s best in kart racing and its team has regularly produced motor karting world champions. Successful graduates of the program have become IFA racing license holders, who have the best and the fastest chance of becoming a professional driver for the Praga Racing Team.

Training, training and training…

How does the actual search for future racing champions look in practice? This week a group of 11 young drivers from across Europe successfully complete a 3 day selection process. Professionals from the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all met at the Slovakia Ring. Over the course of several days, these drivers were put through a number of psychological tests and mental preparation exercises as well as numerous stress tests. The first important indicator of potential was the time trials involving the Praga motor karts on the track in Dunajska Streda. Every driver requires a personal approach and received personal feedback. In the afternoon, these promising racers then got behind the wheel of the Attack cars and set out for the track. After the first day it was clear who had the real talent and who needed a few more hours of training. Evening then gave way to personalized analysis and the process of perfecting driving techniques. Drivers were then separated into 2 groups and only the top 5 most talented drivers got the chance to drive a Praga R4S.

Each additional hour of training really helped push every driver miles ahead. The first run was named Radical, and was designed to get the drivers used to aerodynamic forces. The cherry on the top was to come in the afternoon and for the young drivers behind the wheel of a Praga it was an experience they will never forget. This was a real grand finale, where their driving skills were honed to perfection. They were given the real chance to show who had the chance to enter the winner’s circle in the future and who could look forward to many hours of even more demanding training.

Champions at 16

One doesn’t have to travel far to find examples of how demanding training at a young age delivers results. It is enough to simple remember the uproar generated by 16-year-old blonde sensation Beitske Visser. Last year she drove for Praga in the Dutch Supercar Challenge series. In the top professional GT category and in her first race in Assen, she beat the best drivers at her first opportunity. She is an excellent example for all the drivers who came to gather the knowledge being offered by professional drivers during the New Praga Generation Program. Such drivers included Danny van Dongen (Dutch professional driver in the DSC series), Martin Short (a British racing legend) and Bas Lammers (2010 motor karting world champion)

Martin Short didn’t need much convincing to help out: “I met with the Praga Racing team at a race in the Belgian town of Spa. During the entire race with my Mosler, I kept looking into the rear view mirror and seeing 3 Praga R4Ss behind me. Seeing something like that on such a fast track – I told myself that I really had to meet those people. And so, here I am to share my 25 years of experience from GT and endurance racing, including Le Mans, with the next generation of racing talents.”

The entire team of racing talents came to train on the Slovakia Ring with the largest group of these drivers being from the M-Tec motor karting team lead by Manfred Haufe: “I am really happy that we could participate in the New Praga Generation Program, as it is such a simple and effective method to show drivers the way from karting to professional GT racing. I brought 6 of the best drivers across all age categories to the Slovakia Ring and at least two or three of them are ready to move on the next level of racing.”

The young people themselves who completed the program did not hide their enthusiasm. Beautiful 21-year-old Lucie Panáčková, one of the talents of Czech motor sports and who has driven motor karts for 11 years now had this to add: “I got involved with the New Praga Generation Program thanks to my past performances on motor karting tracks. I experienced and learned things here that simply aren’t available in other teams, from psychological preparations to live driving with the Praga R4S, simply all of the steps to help drivers develop in the best way possible. The program is excellent preparation for making the transition to real GT racing. And the Praga is an unbelievable car – I’ve never sat in anything like it…”

Who is ready for a 24-hour race?New Praga Generation | Driver Portraits

The best part was to come at the end. In addition to huge amounts of valuable advice, actual racetrack kilometres, experience and better self-awareness, the graduates of the New Praga Generation Program were also given one more real chance to become members of the Praga Racing Team, which is preparing for the 2013 Dunlop 24 h Dubai endurance race next year. Team management reached the decision that the best graduate of the program would become a full professional member of the Praga Racing Team. The toughest conditions really put the skills of the drivers, mechanics and the cars themselves to the test. We are also curious to find out if the next Schumacher will come from the Slovakia Ring. That’s because the Czech talent Lucie Panáčková was able to prove just how much tremendous talent she has.

For more information about the New Praga Generation Program, visit www.newpragageneration.eu

Champions at 16

One doesn’t have to travel far to find examples of how demanding training at a young age delivers results. It is enough to simple remember the uproar generated by 16-year-old blonde sensation Beitske Visser. Last year she drove for Praga in the Dutch Supercar Challenge series. In the top professional GT category and in her first race in Assen, she beat the best drivers at her first opportunity. She is an excellent example for all the drivers who came to gather the knowledge being offered by professional drivers during the New Praga Generation Program. Such drivers included Danny van Dongen (Dutch professional driver in the DSC series), Martin Short (a British racing legend) and Bas Lammers (2010 motor karting world champion)

Martin Short didn’t need much convincing to help out: “I met with the Praga Racing team at a race in the Belgian town of Spa. During the entire race with my Mosler, I kept looking into the rear view mirror and seeing 3 Praga R4Ss behind me. Seeing something like that on such a fast track – I told myself that I really had to meet those people. And so, here I am to share my 25 years of experience from GT and endurance racing, including Le Mans, with the next generation of racing talents.”

The entire team of racing talents came to train on the Slovakia Ring with the largest group of these drivers being from the M-Tec motor karting team lead by Manfred Haufe: “I am really happy that we could participate in the New Praga Generation Program, as it is such a simple and effective method to show drivers the way from karting to professional GT racing. I brought 6 of the best drivers across all age categories to the Slovakia Ring and at least two or three of them are ready to move on the next level of racing.”

The young people themselves who completed the program did not hide their enthusiasm. Beautiful 21-year-old Lucie Panáčková, one of the talents of Czech motor sports and who has driven motor karts for 11 years now had this to add: “I got involved with the New Praga Generation Program thanks to my past performances on motor karting tracks. I experienced

and learned things here that simply aren’t available in other teams, from psychological preparations to live driving with the Praga R4S, simply all of the steps to help drivers develop in the best way possible. The program is excellent preparation for making the transition to real GT racing. And the Praga is an unbelievable car – I’ve never sat in anything like it…”

Who is ready for a 24-hour race?

The best part was to come at the end. In addition to huge amounts of valuable advice, actual racetrack kilometres, experience and better self-awareness, the graduates of the New Praga Generation Program were also given one more real chance to become members of the Praga Racing Team, which is preparing for the 2013 Dunlop 24 h Dubai endurance race next year. Team management reached the decision that the best graduate of the program would become a full professional member of the Praga Racing Team. The toughest conditions really put the skills of the drivers, mechanics and the cars themselves to the test. We are also curious to find out if the next Schumacher will come from the Slovakia Ring. That’s because the Czech talent Lucie Panáčková was able to prove just how much tremendous talent she has.

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