The Russian KAMAZ-master sports team scored two victories at once at the DAKAR 2017 and the Africa Eco Race 2017 international off-road rally raids.
This is the 14th victory at the Dakar marathon and the 4th at the Africa Eco Race rally. For the first time, both races started at the same time on two continents.
The Africa Eco Race 2017 marathon, which follows the old African supermarathon route, finished on 14 January on Senegal’s Lake Retba, the same time as the “new” Dakar in South America.
At the Africa Eco Race 2017 (Morocco-Mauritania-Senegal), in the truck category the KAMAZ-master team was represented by two crews, led by Andrey Karginov (Andrey Mokeev, co-pilot, and Dmitry Nikitin, mechanic) and Sergey Kupriyanov (Alexander Kupriyanov, co-pilot, and Anatoliy Tanin, mechanic), with a gas diesel truck fuelled by a mixture of methane and diesel.
The Andrey Karginov - Andrey Mokeev - Dmitry Nikitin crew finished first in the trucks, and the Sergey Kupriyanov - Alexander Kupriyanov - Anatoliy Tanin crew came in fourth.
This is the third marathon rally for the crew of the gas-powered KAMAZ. According to Sergey Kupriyanov, each year the competition provides its participants with a unique experience.
“Last year we had the feeling that we had left some things unfinished. We were saying that we needed to come back and have our revenge. This time, our feelings are completely different because these two weeks have felt like a year of regular life if you look at the experiences we have accumulated. And I am not only speaking of driving experience, but also about life experience as it is. It is a unique mixture of overcoming oneself and of acquiring entirely new impressions and emotions that are impossible to experience in daily life. Something is happening every second here, and one needs to react somehow. This time, Africa reminded us of a famous rule: it is necessary to evaluate the situation very clearly and not rely on one’s own subjective ideas about what is going on,” explained Sergey Kupriyanov.
His crew’s vehicle was completely in line with the “Eco” side of the marathon rally, which seeks to raise awareness of environmental pollution.
“We used a mixture of diesel fuel and methane, which allowed us to reduce emissions and increase the rate of combustion of the fuel mixture. All in all, we are talking about nothing but advantages here,” emphasised Sergey Kupriyanov.
At the South America Dakar rally (Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina), the crew of Eduard Nikolaev, Evgeny Yakovlev, and Vladimir Rybakov finished first, while the crew of Dmitry Sotnikov, Ruslan Akhmadeyev and Igor Leonov came in second (both teams represent KAMAZ-master). Gerard de Rooy (IVECO) of the Netherlands was third in the general classification standings.
The outcome of the race was determined in its final stages. With approximately equal levels of vehicle and driver preparation, the skills of the crews’ navigators turned out to be the decisive factor, and the Russian specialists performed well. Over the 12 stages of the race, and 8,800 kilometres over the plains, mountains and deserts of Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia, the KAMAZ-master team had to withstand pressure from renowned rivals representing IVECO, MAN, TATRA and RENAULT.
It will take KAMAZ-master a lot of work to retain the championship.
The following projects need to be developed:
- the project for the new conventional vehicle designed and constructed at the sports centre;
- a new technical boost for the unique gas-powered KAMAZ project.
The first Dakar marathon started on 26 December, 1978, from Paris. In 2009, due to a terrorist threat, for the first time, the race started and finished in South America — in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital. This year, Paraguay became the 29th country to host the famous rally raid.
The Africa Race emerged in 2008 as an alternative to the departed Dakar race. The race traditionally finishes by Lake Retba, not far from Senegal’s capital.
The gas-powered KAMAZ is a unique sport truck model based on the KAMAZ 4326. For a better weight balance, the gas tanks are installed on the frame in the central part of the truck’s body. The vehicle was designed in 2013 with the support of PJSC Gazprom and VTB bank.
The Africa Eco Race is a unique event for testing the technology of using natural gas as engine fuel in extreme conditions.