KAMAZ Dakar Rally dominant trucking force
If you think Audi’s dominance at Le Mans is unparalleled in the world of motorsports, you may be surprised to find out that one of the most dominant endurance manufacturers comes from ex-Soviet Union.
Durable and heavy duty trucks, perfectly suited for Dakar Rally
The endurance race we’re talking about is Dakar Rally and the vehicle is a heavy-duty truck coming from KAMAZ, or Kamsky Avtomobilny Zavod. KAMAZ is a relatively young company founded in 1969, in Naberezhnye Chelny in the Russian republic of Tatarstan.
The first truck rolled out of the factory in 1976. Over the course of many years, KAMAZ has proven to be the maker of durable, almost omnipotent heavy duty trucks used in all terrains, from the Siberian taigas to the deserts of North Africa and the unforgiving mountain roads of South American Andes.
Video : KAMAZ Red Bull trucks at the 2014 Dakar Rally
Owned by the government of Russia, KAMAZ conquered Dakar
If you’ve ever seen KAMAZ trucks in actions, you have probably seen them winning in impossible, yet everyday situations, most notably crossing fast river streams. The robust and powerful trucks impress everyone with their strong performance at rough terrains, but also with speed. As proper racing vehicles, their maximum speed exceeds 160 km/h.
Today, KAMAZ is jointly owned by the Russian government, Daimler, Troika Dialog and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. By mid-December, almost three million KAMAZ trucks were made.
The most dominant truck in Dakar Rally history
KAMAZ is probably the best known as a thirteen-time Dakar winner between 1996 and 2015. It got the top honors for the first time in 1996, with the second win following in 2000. KAMAZ has won five times between 2002 and 2006, three times between 2009 and 2011, and three more times between 2013 and 2015.
KAMAZ was also present in the top three in almost every year of Dakar Rally since its first win. Its first Dakar outing was in 1990, and the KAMAZ team participated 25 times, which essentially means that it won almost half of its Dakar entries.
Three of its most dominant wins were in 2010 where a KAMAZ had won all 14 stages, and in 2013 and 2015, when their trucks won a 1-2-3. Since 2009, KAMAZ partnered with Red Bull, becoming a part of the biggest extreme family in the world.
A dream team of Tatarstan’s drivers
The first win came in 1996 with Tatarstan’s driver Viktor Moskovskih, who was also the winner of the 1995 Paris-Peking Rally. The next series of wins was scored by the same driver, Vladimir Chagin, who has earned the nickname The Tsar of Dakar since he has been the most successful single category Dakar driver of all time.
Great success at Dakar Rally
His first win came in 2000 followed by a streak from 2002 to 2004. In 2005, the win went to Firdaus Kabirov, a new generation of KAMAZ Dakar drivers, but Chagin returned to the throne in 2006. Kabirov was the 2009 winner again, with Chagin on the top of the podium in 2010 and 2011.
Eduard Nikolaev conquered Dakar in 2013, and Andrey Karginov was the first one to cross the finish line in 2014. A 1-2-3 victory in 2015 was completed by Ayrat Mardeev, Eduard Nikolaev and Andrey Karginov.
The new truck missed the 2016 race, it will be ready for 2017
For the 2016 Dakar Rally, KAMAZ was preparing an all-new long-bonnet Master truck, but it wasn’t ready for the competition and the team entered the race with old trucks. They lost the first place to Iveco and Gerard de Rooy. Eduard Nikolaev finished in second place.
The Russian team had a whole year to complete the development and the new KAMAZ Master debuted at the Gold Cup of Kagan in April. The next test was Silk Way Rally in June, with a route of 10,000 kilometers, very similar to Dakar Rally.