The legendary trucks of Team Kamaz have made their move and asserted their authority at Dakar Rally.
After a slow start, the Russians truckers have come to the forefront in this year’s race, and the podium positions at Stage 10 have turned a familiar shade of blue.
The trucks have maintained their impressive speed to continue a strong second week. On the road to La Rioja, in South America, there was a stage win for Andrey Karginov but yesterday saw team leader Eduard Nikolaev consolidate his first place on the overall rankings.
It now means that Nikolaev has taken over the favourite Gerard De Rooy; holding a 32 minute 23 second advantage over Czech trucker Martin Kolomy, who is in second place. The Kamaz crews of Ayrat Mardeev and Karginov are in third and fourth position, respectively.
Team Kamaz have taken part in 22 out of the 34 rallies so far, winning ten times. They have come a long way since last year’s event, which they missed out on.
Bikers Burning Up the Rubber
But it’s not just the trucks that have performed well at Stage 10, as four-time Dakar champion Cyril Despres moved into first place overall, after all the bikers finally arrived in La Rioja.
Most athletes would plan to conserve their energy after such a huge push on Stage 9 however; the Frenchman has admitted that resting on your laurels is far too risky.
He said: “I was taking my time to warm up this morning because there wasn’t the need to be as aggressive as yesterday. I was planning to use the day to look after the tendons in my legs and wrists but things quickly got boring for me.
“It can be dangerous to relax too much on a stage because your concentration can start to wonder. You can start thinking about how things are home and if I have to do some repairs to the house. When thoughts like this start coming into my head during the race I know it’s time start pushing.”
The motorcycle legend has had his position at the top of the leader board strengthened by his teammate Ruben Faria, who has taken second place.
Chaleco Lopez has maintained third place in the bike race, giving the Chilean biker the dream of taking a podium finish. The motocross rider is mindful that his plan of attack has worked but he knows he has plenty of hard work to do, before the race is over.
He said: “My plan for this Dakar has been to take things day by day and so far it’s working out well for me. Today I was able to maintain my third position in the overall timings so that gives me plenty to build on in the remaining stages. Tomorrow we race the Fiambala stage and I know from experience it will be another extremely demanding day. There will be lots of sand and potential danger spots all over the route that will give even the very best bikers problems.”
Unfortunately it wasn’t good news for everyone at Stage 10. One biker, Kuba Przygonski, suffered a serious dent in his chances of taking a podium finish. His vehicle suffered a bigger dent, but he later claimed that his team had the best pdr kit, and that he didn’t have to worry about it.
The Orlen Team rider experienced a mechanical mishap when a stone got stuck in his brake pad. He ended up colliding into some barbed wire at the side of the track.
Speaking about the nightmare, he said: “During the crash the wire cut up my radiator so I had to make some repairs before I could get moving again. The whole thing ended up costing me about 30 minutes which was not great for my overall result.”
But you know what they say at Dakar; one competitor’s bad luck is another person’s gain; and this is certainly true in the car race.
Nasser Al-Attiyah withdrew from Stage 9, which promoted Giniel De Villiers into second place. Now Giniel trails the race leader Stephane Peterhansel by a noteworthy time gap of 52 minutes 38 seconds.
For daily updates on all the stages at Dakar 2013 and interviews with the athletes; check out www.redbull.com/dakar.