Russians rule in South America
Two Kamaz teams, piloted by Eduard Nikolaev and Dmitry Sotnikov, took the first and second place spots in the truck category of the 2017 Dakar event on Saturday, January 14, making it the 14th win for the Russian team.
After 7 000 km, the top three spots in the Dakar 2017 truck race where still undefined. Yet, by the 10th stage, the Kamaz-master team led their nearest rivals by more than 20 minutes. Nikolaev and his crew, Evgeny Yakovlev and Vladimir Rybakov, finished first.
“These two weeks were very hard,” Nikolaev says. “The Dakar is a marathon and we had no choice but to conserve our energy throughout the stages. We managed to get stronger and stronger, whereas other teams started losing time,” he comments. Team manager Vladimir Chagin has been praised as “outstanding” by the sportsman.
Sotnikov, with Ruslan Akhmadeev and Igor Leonov, also from the Kamaz crew, took second place in what was their first entry into the Dakar race.
“When the master team experienced problems, we stepped on a gas when needed and kept the rivals stressed,” Sotnikov says.
Third place was claimed by last year’s winner, Dutchman Gerard de Rooy, in his Iveco.
In preparation for Dakar 2017, the Kamaz-crew completely updated their trucks.
“We realised that the Dakar has changed slightly. Tracks have become faster,” Nikolaev explains. “We changed the design and weight distribution of the truck, as well as the brand of tyres, which enabled us to go faster,” he says. This year’s race was more difficult to navigate; a challenge for the winning team that will focus on improving their navigation for next year.
Dmitry Sotnikov, heading the runner-up team, agrees that navigation was challenging. “Problems with navigation struck everyone. It made the race unpredictable and exciting,” he says.
The team’s physical training prepared them for the harsh conditions, while their mechanics saved valuable time by working each night.
Vitaly Mutko, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, has congratulated the team members on their victory. “The Kamaz-master team has been a leader for many years. They confirmed their level of skill and technical expertise. I congratulate Nikolaev and the other crews, as well as team leader Vladimir Chagin. We waited for this victory and were confident it would be achieved.”