Voices from Russia

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Dakar Is Still Dakar, Even If It Is Held In Latin America

Filed under: Russian,sport — 01varvara @ 00.00


KAMAZ racing team in Moscow

The world’s most prestigious international motor rally, the Dakar-2009, kicked off in Buenos Aires on Saturday, 3 January. For the first time in 30 years, the race will be held on tough Latin American roads, rather than in Europe and Africa. Continual guerrilla wars in African countries caused the organisers to change the traditional venue for the meet. The fighting makes the race dangerous both to the racers and to the fans crowding along the track.

The new route will cross Argentina and Chile and then return to Argentina to make a huge 9,000 kilometre loop. The racers will drive into the Andes twice through passes located at an altitude of 4,000 metres. The road from Chile back to Argentina will cross the Atacama Desert, so, the route will prove quite hard to traverse.

“Most racers are driving the route for the first time, which makes it a complete mystery to them”, said Russian driver Firdaus Kabirov, “so, we will have to take our bearings when we are already committed to the course. But, the biggest problem is dusty roads, which makes it very difficult to overtake the vehicle in front of you. We will lose a lot of time overtaking other vehicles and we will run a certain amount of risk in the process. This makes the Latin American race very different from the previous Dakar motor-rallies in Africa”.

Again, the drivers of the Russian KAMAZ truck team, with their record of seven wins in the Dakar rally, stand the best chance to win this time, too. The Russian team is made up of three crews, just as before. Team captain Semyon Yakubov said he hoped that the Russian trucks, which have undergone exquisite tuning at the hands of super-professional and experienced mechanics and engineers, will not let the racers down. “The shock-absorbers have been finally brought to perfection. The suspension, too, has undergone major change, which provides greater travelling comfort and speed in the trucks”.

The Russian racers see their main rivals in the Dutch team, who are used to this kind of road, and, besides, have lighter vehicles. “But, we’ve come here to win, and we will try not to disappoint the Russian fans”, the Russian drivers noted.

3 January 2009

Svetlana Andreyeva

Voice of Russia World Service


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