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Kazakh crew approaches Dakar's Top-10 08 января 2015, 21:21

Kazakhstani crews has completed the second stage of Dakar, which proved to be dangerous and quite demanding for both racers and vehicles.
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Photo courtesy of Astana Motorsports Photo courtesy of Astana Motorsports

The second stage of the most prestigious extreme rally raid Dakar is over. The route of the first day ran from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan and was not equally successful for all four Kazakhstan's crews at the race, Tengrinews reports. The second stage was even more challenging than the first one.

Kazakhstan is represented by four crews at Dakar-2015: three SUVs and one truck of Astana Motorsports.

In the category of trucks (T4) is the crew piloted by Arthur Ardavichus, the bronze medalist of Dakar 2012, with navigator Alexei Nikizhev and mechanic Daniel Kozlowsky, riding a Tatra under the number 515.

Artur Ardavichus spoke of the second stage: “We were going through serpentine rock, with frequent turns, and at some point the steering wheel got jammed. It turned to the left but not to the right, so the truck missed the correct trajectory. The road was straight ahead but the truck continued going to the left. There was a hill to the left of the roAd and we crushed into the hillocks and fell on a side.”

A truck passing by helped their Tatra us back up. No one was hurt in the incident. The hydraulic booster had to be repaired right in the field, so that the crew could finish the stage.

Scrutineers, or tech inspection, said they would check on the condition of the vehicle at 6 a.m. the next day to make sure it complies with the safety standards - the door had to open and close so as the windows. Unless the repairs are complete in time, Dakar would be over for the truck from Kazakhstan. Luckily, the safety cage of the truck was almost undamaged, so the repairs were made and the crew continued the Dakar.

After losing time, Ardavichus fell back to the 27th place.

Another crew from Kazakhstan, piloted by Aidyn Rakhimbayev and navigated by Anton Nikolaev, on the contrary went up in the general classification. Racing in the T1 category (improved cross-country vehicles), they finished the stage in the 11th place on their MINI under number 329, thereby climbing to the 12th place in the overall standing.

"Excellent drive today,” Aydin Rakhimbayev shared. “But there was an extreme point. We almost hit a motorcyclist.”

During the race, the visibility was obscured by dust and at one point there were several motorcyclists in front of the crew from Kazakhstan. “When we see a few motorcyclists, normally we simply outrace them, since the speed of the two-wheeled is lower. So it was in this case: a few riders drove to the right. But one remained in front of us. The track went deeper. Our speed was 120, 100, 90, we were slowing down. He stayed in front of us: first 100, then 50, then 30 meters ahead. He just couldn't climb out of that rut,” Rakhimabyev recalled.

“Then he began to slow down, looking for a way to go off to the right. But the rut buried him even deeper, and a fountain of dust splashes into the sky closing our view. Visibility was zero. I pushed the brakes, we dug deep into a rut before we reached the full stop. When the dust settled down we was that the racer managed to climb out of the rut and drive off to the right mere meters away from our bumper. I cannot describe it to you enough how happy and lucky we felt. All of us. And it is also hard to convey the look in his eyes. There was a lot of gratitude, fear, misunderstanding and whatnot. Quite a picture," the pilot recalled.

Rakhimabayev said that the stage as a whole was challenging too. He said there was a very long selective section that caused many retirements. Dozens of vehicles just stood on of the side of the road along the section. Fesh fesh (tiny sand) forced some of the drivers to dig their vehicles out, while others had to make repairs. One buggy even burnt.  

Another Kazakh crew riding in T1 category experienced more problems than the first car. Represented by pilot Bauyrzhan Isabayev and navigator Vladimir Demyanenko, driving a Toyota Overdrive with the starting number 340, they finished the stage 23rd.

At the finish of the special section, the longest one (518 kilometers), pilot Bauyrzhan Isabayev said: "Well, guys, if only you knew how knackered we are! But not in vain, since the vehicle under the number 340 made it to the end of the special section on the 23rd position, reaching the 27th place in the general classification.”

In the T2 class (cross-country series production vehicles) Kazakhstan's crew of pilot Denis Berezovsky and navigator Ignat Falkov withdrew after the second stage.

The next, third stage of San Juan/Chilecito took the participants of the rally marathon through red canyons, with rocky areas that rip tires and threaten wheels. Hopefully, the Kazakhstani crews make it to the finish on all four wheels!
By Dinara Urazova


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