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Crews from Kazakhstan complete first part of Dakar 15 января 2015, 09:28

Dakar's first part is over with three crews from Kazakhstan remaining in the marathon rally.
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Photo courtesy of Astana Motorsports Photo courtesy of Astana Motorsports

Astana Motorsports crews have passed the seventh and eighth stages of Dakar marathon rally, thereby completing the Bolivian part of the race and returning to Chile, Tengrinews reports.

On January 11th the Dakar took SUVs/trucks and motorcycles to different countries. The first raced off to Bolivia, while the latter remained in the dunes near the Chilean town of Iquique. All categories underwent a marathon stage, which meant small bivouac crews were denied assistance.

On their MINI (number 329), the Kazakh crew of pilot Aydin Rakhimbayev and navigator Anton Nikolayev finished the eighth stage in the fourteenth position. They are on the thirteenth position in the general classification.

"On the special stage there was quite a lot of dirt and rain made it all worse. The car became unmanageable. Also, let’s not forget about the altitude sickness, which really hits the body. (…) We started seventeen and finished twelfth. Not bad. We managed this even in spite of having to change a wheel in the process,” Aydin Rakhimbayev said.

The racers descended from the desert plateau Pampa Tamarugal to the Pacific coast. As Rakhimbayev notes, the two stages were 1,500 kilometers. "Everything was complicated by the fact that we raced at high altitudes. The headaches were splitting. But we won back several positions," he said.

Navigator Anton Nikolayev said: "The navigation along the way was quite interesting. For example, the water was waist deep. There was a heavy rain and we barely had time to make it before the river poured over its banks. People were literally swimming there and some are still stuck there.”

After the race Rakhimbayev turned everyone’s heads. “There were lots of people. I turned and saw the president of Bolivia nearby. And I was just taking out my phone to make a couple of shots. So I offered him to have a photo together. Everyone around got a little tense but he suddenly said: "No problem." It was a selfie with applause," Rakhimbayev laughs.

The other crew from Kazakhstan, racing a Toyota under number 340, finished the stage in the 25th place. The crew is in the 18th place in the overall standing.

Pilot Bauyrzhan Issabayev said that the stage was very hard because of the altitude. Moreover, the rain made it even more complicated, their car almost got stuck in the river they were crossing. “I don’t know how we made it from Bolivia,” he said.

Vladimir Demyanenko, the navigator of the crew, explained that they were very careful and managed to complete the stages without committing critical mistakes. Their Toyota was in a good condition, so they just checked and washed it for the next race.

“We had a really good night’s sleep, though we slept in 'soldier’s barracks', on iron beds. But it felt like a feather bed to us!” Demyanenko joked.

Unfortunately, not everything went smoothly for the truck from Kazakhstan (number 515). The truck’s continuation of the race was under big question. Even though everything was going well for Ardavichus, Nikizhev and Kozlowsky on the seventh stage of the marathon, the overload eventually split the truck’s collector. Their mechanic Kozlowsky finished the repairs only late at night. The crew finished the stage in the tenth place.

"Today was a very difficult day,” says Alexey Nikizhev, navigator of the crew. “After yesterday's challenges the car is not yet completely ready. At the end of the stage there were difficult sands, which we partially overcame on the rear axle only, due to the front’s failure."

Instead of retiring, which many predicted for the Tatra truck crew, they now occupy the 25th place in the general classification.

Ahead was a day of rest for the racers. After that the second, more important part of the Dakar started. The leaders stood out clearly already and all the crews knew the places they were fighting for in the end. But this only spurred the competition.

On the day of rest everyone was invited to attend the traditional Kazakh dinner at the bivouac of Astana Motorsports where they could join the team from Kazakhstan and relax in a friendly atmosphere before the second part of the rally marathon.

By Dinara Urazova

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