Astana racers left for Sonangol Africa Eco Race - Interview27 december 2012, 15:20
Kazakhstan's team Astana has departed to Europe for the Sonangol Africa Eco Race 2013.
Kazakhstan’s Astana is represented by 4 maintenance vehicles and racing 3 crews: Marat Abykayev and Zhanat Zhalimbetov in the first crew, Kanat Shagirov and Aleksander Moroz in the second crew and Yuriy Sazonov and Arslan Sakhimov in the third crew.
Aleksander Linnik, who was responsible for medical preparation of Kazakhstan racers, said that the race’s organizer Jean Louis Schlesser is the main favorite of the race. “Our guys are good as well: they are experienced. We hope that at least one of our crews would show good results this year. All of our guys are strong and the team is in good spirit,” he said.
Astana team ready to depart for Sonangol Agrica Eco Race 2013. Photo by Yaroaslav Radlovskiy©
Chief mechanic of Astana Andrei Chipenko told about technical preparedness of the team’s cars:
A: The cars are fully ready in line with all the rules registered in this race. These are sport cars, absolutely non-standard, modern and ready for any obstacles. Our cars will make it through the route for sure and I think they will bring back some good results.
Q: What are the technical complications our pilots will face during the race?
A: Different breakdowns that happen every day. But our mechanics are well-trained. We have everything sorted out in terms of spare parts and technical support. We have been racing for the last 10 years, that’s why we are ready for everything.
Q: What is the mechanics’ responsibility?
A: We are now leaving the amateur level and entering the professional one, that’s why every car gets two mechanics who are fully responsible for its condition, water and food for pilots. They are responsible for everything. The pilot should not think of anything but the race itself during the race. His task is to sit down, buckle up and reach the destination. The rest is our job.
Q: Every member of the team knows what to do, but are there any problems that you may be unable to manage?
A: Weather! It is normally very hot. Outside temperature reached almost zero degrees Centigrade at night and around 25 degrees Centigrade above zero during the day. Of course, it gets over 40 degrees inside the car. There are no ACs in the cars and everyone is wearing special overalls and helmets. This is difficult. Normally pilots lose 5 to 7 kg during one such race. During the race we get special salty drinks with sports solutions that help us stay in good shape. But our team keeps developing and one of our three cars now has an AC. This is a new thing that we are going to test.
Each crew is made of two people: a pilot and a navigator. Besides up-to-date equipment, Kazakhstan cars have got experienced and skillful professionals. Sonangol Africa Eco Race is just as famous as Dakar race and has its own special route. Navigators receive the road book only one day before the start.
Aleksander Linnik, Aleksander Moroz and Andrei Chipenko. Astana team ready to depart for Sonangol Agrica Eco Race 2013. Photo by Yaroaslav Radlovskiy©
Navigator of the second crew Aleksander Moroz told about the most complicated parts of the route:
A: There can be special problems in the sands of West Sahara, as the sands are drifting and races lose time there if their cars get stuck or even flip over. Many serious accidents happen during every race.
Q: What are the navigator’s tasks?
A: The navigator does 70 percent of all the work: he directs the pilot. Main difficulty is not to get lost, read the map properly and get the car to the finish without much losses. Besides controlling the road, we also have to monitor the pilot’s condition and support him. The pilot has to be stopped at some points, because adrenalin keeps rushing through his veins and the pilot can get over his capacities.
The racers will take off on December 27 in France. They will drive through Spain, Morocco and Mauritania. The finish is in the capital of Senegal, Dakar. The total length of Sonangol Africa Eco Race is over 3 thousand km. This means that the racers will have to drive almost 500km a day.