The Czech Buggyra Zero Mileage Racing team is one of the oldest players in the comparably young motorsports discipline of truck racing. Its roots date back over 50 years to Václav Král, a designer and tinkerer who founded the ‘Baghira’ brand in 1969 in then Czechoslovakia. Král used to build racing buggies and later the Skoda Baghira, a two-seater Spider.
The Buggyra name and logo were inspired by the black panther in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book and even though its name changed later on, the panther within the blue and red logo remained.
Buggyra’s liaison with truck racing started in 1993, although the ambitious truck racer Martin Koloc first entered under different team names. In 2000 Koloc together with an investment group formed the privately run Team Buggyra and has since continued to extend the team beyond their truck racing commitment to other series, and they are currently also running in the Rallye Dakar.
In 2019 Koloc founded the „Buggyra Academy“, which is based in Nogaro since the start of this year. The track in the south-west of France hosted FIA ETRC races in the past and according to Koloc the conditions there are ideal to test in winter too unlike on Czech race tracks.
’The academy is basically open for any interested driver,” said Koloc. The young drivers take part in a scouting process and the board then decides who gets a place.”
The overall goal of the academy is to produce versatile, all-round drivers by nurturing their strengths, tailoring the training programs and by giving them the chance to race different vehicles in different disciplines which include truck racing, off-road racing, circuit racing and virtual motorsport. The Buggyra academy program also includes a nutritionist and fitness trainers with former champion David Vršecký heading up the training program for the truck racers and ETRC champion Adam Lacko is involved as well.
When real life racing was put on hold in 2020 due to the world-wide pandemic, sim racing grew in popularity amongst the motorsport community. The Buggyra academy is currently building a new training centre in the Czech Republic which will launch in February 2021, where the drivers can virtually prepare themselves for different Formula and GT series on the latest simulators.
Current ETRC truck racing drivers Téo Calvet and Aliyyah Koloc are both part of the Buggyra academy and both also follow in the footsteps of their dads, carving out a career in motorsport.
16-year old Aliyyah Koloc started playing tennis at the age of 4 with the dream of becoming a professional tennis player. She put in the hard work and long hours of training for 10 years pursuing her dream. During that time the teenager also developed an interest for motorsport as she went to races with her dad. When she was forced to stop playing tennis in 2018 due to issues with her knees, she turned her attention to motorsport and tested in different categories within Buggyra Racing.
Last year the team and Aliyyah wrote history when she surpassed two world records in top speed on 500 metres with a standing and a rolling start in June. The then 15-year old kept a cool head in her 5-tonne 1,900 bhp Buggyra truck: “Once I got into the truck and started the engine, any nervousness was gone.”
After being diagnosed with Asperger’s three years ago, Aliyyah founded the Smiling Eyes Foundation to raise awareness and help other kids with this condition while ‘doing what she loves’.
As the youngest ever FIA ETRC entrant, the young racer gave an impressive debut on her first outing at the ETRC race in Most in August 2020, with a second place in the Goodyear Cup and a strong eight place finish overall and she also scored a top 10 finish at the race in Hungary. „She has plenty of time to develop,” said Martin Koloc, who does’t want to rush anything when it comes to his daughter’s motorsports career, but instead build a solid base to build upon.
Aliyyah and her twin sister Yasmeen are part of Buggyra’s Dakar team this year and the plan is to enter both girls in 2023 when they will turn 18.
With only 19 years of age, Téo Calvet has already got quite some experience in truck racing under his belt. Like Aliyyah, Téo too was exposed to motorsport from an early age as his father Fabien started racing trucks in the mid nineties and after a ten-year stint in the sport, he has remained involved in truck racing since he retired.
Téo had his first outing in a 5-ton racing truck when he was only 16 and raced a yellow MAN for the French Lion Truck Racing Team in the French Championship. He won his first race and went on to finish his first season in third place. In the winter break he moved over to Buggyra to partner ETRC champion Adam Lacko and Aliyyah Koloc for the 2020 season in which he won three Goodyear Cup races and also finished third at the main ETRC race in Hungary.
Calvet sees the Buggyra academy as an opportunity to improve his driving skills: „The academy was a big opportunity for me. The coaches are great and I get the chance to test different vehicles, which I haven’t done before.”
The young French racer has ambitious goals for the 2021 season: ‘I want to win the French Championship in the main category, as well as the FIA ETRC Goodyear Cup, which is dedicated to new talent to the series. And of course I want to get as much experience as possible, get to know the tracks I haven’t raced on before and have fun with the team.”
Way to go Téo!