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We have a reliable car: Arthur Ardavichus -- Interview

04 января 2013, 23:16

The 35th Dakar will start on January 5 in Lima. The racers have to drive through 15 stages across Peru, Argentina and Chile. The finish is scheduled for January 20 in Santiago, Chile.

Kazakhstan crew led by Arthur Ardavichus achieved glorious results in the trucks category at the Dakar-2012 race, becoming the third in the general standings.

What do the racers expect from the new challenge in their sport life and which small things can effect the outcomes of every stage of the legendary rally?

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

"We have a reliable car!"

Q. Arthur, how does your crew feel?

A. The team is ready to start. We are ready for the race, both technically and physically.

Q. What technical changes have you made in your truck since last year?

A. There is nothing particularly new. We had to prepare the truck at a very short notice, because we initially planned to skip Dakar 2013. But our participation was confirmed at the very last moment and we started urgently preparing the crew and the vehicle. Our truck is 6 years old. It might not be as fast as the ones of our competitors, and not as aggressive as the trucks in KAMAZ team, but it is very reliable. The engine has remained the same, so as your choice of tires brand - we are running on Michelin. Even though the tires failed us last year - the tires could not endure the high speeds and we lost time replacing them. Our main task is to show bright and spectacular racing.

Q. Are there any changes in the race itself?

A. Technically, no. Only the route has changed. This time it will go from the North to the South, it was visa verse last year. It used to be vice verse before. We start in the capital of Peru, Lima, then drive to Chile and Argentina and then back to Chile again. The race will finish in Santiago.

Q. What are your main goals for the new Dakar?

A. It will be the most difficult one for us. We weren't taken very seriously until recently. But now competitors are uptight about us, because they know that we are fast, consistent and experienced, i.e. they view us as direct competitors, expect things from us and fear us. And it is very likely that starting from the very first stage the competitors will be put up different obstacles for us. The rally has its own secret team tactics.

Q. What is this tactics?

A. Let's say our competitors, Dutch or German, assign one of their cars to work against us. Its goal would be to protect their main crew. They will create dust tunnels, mislead us and etc. This is the kind of tactics that can be used. Too bad we don't have five cars, like Gerard de Rooy does, for example. On the other hand, this is pleasant. Our competitor spends millions of Euro on another car and crew just to win several minutes from us.

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

"Withdrawal from Dakar is a tragedy"

Q. What about your number (#517). Are you superstitious? What do you think about your number?

A. First I would like to point out that we have received the number 17, although we won the third place last year. According to the rules of the race, we we supposed to kick from the third position. Organizers explained this by saying that they decided to create an intrigue and that's why they numbered us this way. The global sport community believes that it is yet too early for us to be in the Top-10. That is the real reason why them put us so low. And what concerns superstitions, I like number 17. I am normally happy with any number I get. One should smile to the numbers and they would bring luck and enjoyment!

Q. What can you expect from the race with such a number?

A. We want to retain our positions and advance further in the ranking as much as we can. It is a difficult task to catch up with the first truck. The first truck just drives along the road with nobody to hinder its progress. And if you start from the second dozen, it is impossible to catch up with the leader. But the most important for us is to reach the finish line. It is a big victory for any crew to complete the race from the beginning to the end. It is so stupid to set a goal of winning the second, fifth or any other place at Dakar. Normally less than a half of the cars reach the finish and nobody will remember the names of the those who withdraw from the race. This is cruel. Many plots get crippled in accidents in such races. And withdrawal from Dakar is a tragedy for any team. We hope to avoid such fate.

Q. What stage of the previous races do you remember the most?

A. One of the most difficult stages we had was in Chilean Andes. It was a tough route, and we driving at maximum speeds. We we pressing ourselves to the limit back then, because we knew that should we yield several more minutes to our competitors we would go down in the general standings and we would never manage to reach them again. Then I saw my friend Alex Loprais meet with an accident. This sight threw us off our stride, we slowed down and felt depressed. We were also scared to crush our truck: when fear takes control over you, it stands in the way of work a lot. We pulled over and started helping Loprais' crew. We called the emergency helicopter, helped the guys out of the truck and supported them until the helicopter arrived. I hope nothing like this will happen again. We are not scared of difficulties, but we need our truck and our nerves to endure them.

Q. Does your team have any rituals that you care to observe before the start?

A. We try to believe in ourselves and out truck. But there is one important tradition. When your fellow crew is preparing to take off, you go round their car in a circle checking that everything is alright with it. Someone has to do this, because the crew is already inside the car, with their helmets on and buckled up. You can move your head only 60 degrees to once side or another in this outfit. They use the ration only to communicate with each. In fact, they are cut off from the rest of the world. That's why you have to make the final check and see that that everything is fit firmly in place and that there are no leaks, because things happen. If all is good, you give a sign to the crew and clap on the back of the car, just as if you are asking a good friend not to let you down in an important endeavor. It is better to discover a problem before the start and eliminate it. This would mean loosing some time, but would probably save your life.

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

"We carry Kazy in spare tires!"

Q. What is your diet during the rally?

A. We have a meat diet during Dakar. Most often the cuisine of the countries where the rally is held consists of meat products. Even the people look impressive there: like young bulls full of strength and bravery. We love local stakes. By the way, the food is excellent at the races. We press hard on stakes for a reason: meat gives lots of energy and strength. For breakfast we normally eat porridge and yogurts. But only if there are more than two hours before the start. If less, the maximum we can eat is the piece of bread with some jam and a small cup of tea.

Q. Why?

A. If there are around 1.5 hours before the start, it is better not to eat much. If you do you would start feeling unwell in 20 minutes after the race starts. The shaking from the road bumps would make you sick and dizzy. That's why we normally get into the truck hungry and angry! I checked on myself, I drive faster when I'm hungry. If I'm full, I tend to slow down. One has to be angry at the start.

Q. During last year's Dakar you somehow managed to cook beshbarmak in Argentinean desert! (Beshbarmak is a Kazakh national dish. It is made of boiled meat that is usually diced and special boiled noodles, and garnished with black pepper. It is usually served in a big round dish. Beshbarmak is usually served with shorpa – meat broth in bowls called kese).

A. Right in at the middle of Dakar there is a so-called Rest Day. Even though it is called a rest day, nobody is rest in fact. Normally technicians only have one night to prepare their car for the next stage. But during the Rest Day teams prepare their cars for the next dash, they replace all worn down parts. Basically, we start the second half of the race on a new car. Every year we make this day a national cuisine day and cook beshbarmak.

Q. Where do you get the required ingredients for that?

A. We buy meat in Kazakhstan. We also carry a special large pot, saksaul wood and different spices. We try to bring as much local food and ingredients as possible even though import of food is banned in Chile and Argentina. That's why we have to hide them in technical sections or among spare parts. We hide horse meat and Kazy (a traditional sausage-like food of Kazakhs) in spare tires. We buy dough in an Italian shop. We use lasagna dough, it is excellent for besbarmak. Believe you me, there is a Kazy sausage hidden somewhere in a far corner of every Kazakhstan crew's car at Dakar! We cook not only at Dakar but at other tournaments as well - at World Cup stages, for example. We always treat our colleagues and share Kazakhstan culture through our national food.

Q. Pilots experience huge pressure during the race. How many kilograms do you lose during one race?

A. We lose an average of 3kg every day. Plus we drink a special solution with calcium, salt and soda bicarbonate: these are the elements that we lose during the race. We all become slim and slender after Dakar, but quickly gain our weight back after about a week of rest. This is an excellent fitness program. So anyone who wants to lose weight really fast is welcome to Dakar!

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

"Dakar will come to Kazakhstan!"

Q. Is it possible to organize an international rally in Kazakhstan?

A. There is a plan to hold a Dakar series at the territory of Kazakhstan. Our country has perfect conditions for such races. We have different interchanging landscapes: we have mountains, steppes, deserts, very different terrains plus a vast territory. So we comply with all the technical requirements for Dakar rally. It just needs to be organized. Our team's director Marat Abykayev is currently working on that. So I think that Kazakhstan residents will be able to see the racing sport elite in Kazakhstan in the nearest years. Dakar will come to Kazakhstan!

Q. Astana team will be represented in the next season of Formula-1, it would have been hard to believe only a short time ago...

A. This is a very big and important step for our country. I can't wait to see a Formula-1 car with Astana brand. Important negotiations are underway and formalities are being solved. I have known Daniel Juncadella for a long time. He recently passed some tests in Ferrari and Mercedes teams and showed the best results. After that he received an offer to become a reserve and test pilot. This is his first step to Formula-1. The decision will be made very soon. Besides Formula-1, it is known for sure that he will drive at GP-2 or DTM races for one season.

Q. What about you? Would you like to try yourself in other series?

A. This year I took tests in Michael Makinen's team and showed good results. They wanted a foreigner to become one of the pilots and invited me. So next year I will try myself in truck circuit races, I will take part in the Scandinavian championship. Finnish guys are the fastest there, but I will be happy if I win one of the stages.

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

Arthur Ardavichus personal stock photo

Source: Vesti.kz

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