Kamaz dominates desert war
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