Kamaz dom­i­nates desert war

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By JAMES STAN­FORD

RUS­SIA is cel­e­brat­ing its re­turn to the top of the Dakar podium af­ter its Kamaz trucks dom­i­nated this year’s race.

Kamaz fin­ished first, sec­ond and third in the gru­elling desert bat­tle, with Ed­uard Niko­laev the first man home.

It is a re­turn to form for the coun­try that has all but dom­i­nated the truck sec­tion of the Dakar for the past decade, win­ning eight of the 10 events.

Kamaz also won with­out the driv­ing prow­ess of leg­endary racer Vladimir Cha­gin, oth­er­wise known as the Tsar of the Dakar, who won the event for Kamaz an in­cred­i­ble seven times.

Cha­gin didn’t race last year, the year the Dutch­based Iveco team dom­i­nated the event. He played a role in this year’s vic­tory in the po­si­tion of team man­ager.

‘‘It’s the hap­pi­est day for the Kamaz-Master team, for our coun­try and for all our fans,’’ Cha­gin told The Voice for Rus­sia ra­dio sta­tion. ‘‘We had se­ri­ous doubts about win­ning even two medal places, and there we are — tak­ing the en­tire podium to the sur­prise of all other Dakar rac­ers.’’

The Kamaz team had rea­son to doubt its abil­ity to win at Dakar this year as last year’s Iveco win­ner, Ger­ard de Rooy, won the first three stages of the event and built up a lead of more than six min­utes, be­fore strik­ing trou­ble on stage four.

He re­cov­ered but lost the lead for good on stage nine, in what Iveco de­scribes as ‘‘an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of mis­ery’’ that left him more than an hour be­hind.

This can be trans­lated as me­chan­i­cal prob­lems.

Fel­low Iveco racer Hans Stacey rolled his truck 79km into stage six, end­ing his hopes on the spot. Luck­ily, no­body was in­jured.

A Kamaz truck at last year’s Dakar rally — this year the trucks took the top three spots

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