Autosport

What’s it like to drive a combat Dakar rally KAMAZ? The story inside with photos and videos

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Tatarstan — never Saudi Arabia, and the clay ground in the village of Talovka not desert RUB al-Khali, but the feeling that is present at the “Dakar”, complete. Whether due to the fact that next to roaring diesel racing KAMAZ three-43509, because “smart” watch shows +38 in Naberezhnye Chelny. And it seems that the best opportunity to feel yourself in the role of a member of the legendary rally-marathon without leaving Russia, no…

Keep your head straight!

However, the first opportunity to think about all these coincidences appears only inside the cab of the truck. Just because it gets so hot that all one track mind — where would I find revitalizing. Although the red-hot metal cockpit combat KAMAZ-43509 does not seem the most obvious choice on the background of the Kama river and the shade of birches and pines, but only in the truck has air conditioning. Not the usual fans (they too left), and the real air — there is even a possibility if you make it to the deflectors, to adjust the flow of air. But only as long as you’re not chained multipoint seat belts to the seats-“the buckets”.

The moment stamped itself in the seat of the Navigator, come to mind two thoughts. First, the mechanic Vladimir Rybakov clearly going to be slimmer of the author of these lines. Secondly, that the opportunity to drive the truck only in the helmet and the HANS system is a real gift.

Каково это — проехать на боевом дакаровском «КАМАЗе»? Рассказ изнутри с фото и видео

With envy looking at how in two jumps Eduard Nikolaev, clad in a full-on racing gear taking off the wheel and just as quickly descends back to earth for interviews for TV groups, very quickly understand that to win at the “Dakar” the mere ability to run the best race truck a little. While sitting still in the air-conditioned cabin and was sweating in a t-shirt and jeans (thank you, not Packed in a suit, otherwise we would obtain canned “journalist Motorsport in its own juice”), pilots without visible drops of sweat all the time: drive behind the wheel, discuss the behavior of the machine with the mechanics, to give interviews to the press and to return to the workplace. Again, all of this in a fireproof suit to heat under 40 degrees…

From soul-searching and comparing itself with the driver (in favor of the pilot of “KAMAZ-master”, of course) saves only the voice of Eduard Nikolaev in the headphones — the pilot is strapped in, helmet on head, gloves are stretched, and the truck engine started and porykivaet somewhere beneath you. 4-time champion of “Dakar” briefly talks about the track that I’m familiar with on the trip, 2017, and at the same time gives parting words: try to keep your head straight, to the habit not to injure the neck on rough terrain, and quickly grasp the handrail in front of him and to plant the feet to stand on the floor of the cabin, when you receive such a command from the pilot. Bearing in mind that in Ternovke in some places this way to fly over the land, additional points of support in the cockpit looking for before the start. And it becomes a… a major mistake!

Cabin suspension — power!

Nikolaev touches and a very mild roar of the diesel, accompanied by whistling turbines and periodic beeping of the sensors in the cockpit, a giant truck is gaining its maximum of 140 km/h Surprising speed, and how smooth is the KAMAZ-43509 are pretty dug in previous passages of the track. Three years ago, I remember it was much harder, and now, Yes, shakes, Yes, on particularly large bumps have to hold on to the handrail and lean all my weight on the bandwagon, but even on those jumps, where the car leaves the ground with all four wheels, landing strikes you with its softness. Do not have time to ask what the secret was before my eyes pop purple a powerful spring and rubber cushion in the center of the front bumper that has caught my eye before boarding the cab.

And Yes, the one additional cab suspension, was working on the “KAMAZ-master”, in fact, increases the comfort for the crew. Minor irregularities almost invisible, and addressing large though not like driving on smooth asphalt track, but even for untrained people like journalists especially traumatic in every sense of the word experience doesn’t turn around. So I didn’t have to worry about finding more points of support and just focus on the trip.

Edward confirms my guess, and notes that the cab suspension is not just makes off-road racing more humane, but also allows you to play time — where before I had to slow down because of irregularities, it is now possible to go faster. Said the driver immediately confirms the fact: speeding before the final jump of the track, a 9.5-ton white-and-blue machine landed gently and neatly parked next to the truck of Ayrat Mardeev, who arrived at the finish line a little earlier.

A moment later the car nearby stops Dmitry Sotnikov — Parking a giant truck so accurate that to learn from the pilots of “KAMAZ-master” this skill could be many. Or at least to adopt technical solutions, as the KAMAZ-43509 installed several video cameras that allow you to control the situation around the car Park almost centimeter precision. In the race it does not help, but on a press tour after each journey the trucks are arranged in a smooth line to the delight of the press.

Каково это — проехать на боевом дакаровском «КАМАЗе»? Рассказ изнутри с фото и видео

The truck in between races

From mechanics to navigators

But while some are removed, we again clamber into the cockpit. This time in “fighting” the car of Dmitry Sotnikov, where our journalistic tandem switches places — I get the navigation Ruslana macromolecules in the centre of the cabin and seat mechanics Ilgiz Akhmetzyanov is Vadim Gagarin, who rode in the role of the Navigator Evgeny Yakovlev.

While waiting for the pilot to have time to exchange impressions. My experience is nothing on the background of the background Gagarin, who raced (and continues to do in Naberezhnye Chelny Vadim came literally from the stage of SMP RTCS in Smolensk, where he performed in the class S1600) to circuit racing and rally, therefore, the opinion of a fellow racer particularly interesting. Summary fairly short and succinct: to compare the trip to Dakar truck even the experienced pilot is absolutely nothing, because neither the ring nor the classic rally have nothing to do with a multi-ton machine on the road.

A short but emotional dialogue of journalists-passengers interrupts the calm of the centurions that one question — “Ready?” — makes it clear that you can go. Gas in the floor, and here we race on the second run to the landfill. Ride with different riders, even at the 15-kilometer route gives, of course, twice the emotions, and at the same time gives interesting observations. The most important of which is the difference in flying technique and differences in the cab of the truck.

Каково это — проехать на боевом дакаровском «КАМАЗе»? Рассказ изнутри с фото и видео

Riders, and journalists between races

Secrets of flying Nikolaev and Sotnikov

Let’s start with the latter. Technically, all KAMAZ-43509 in the team the same, but due to the fact that a pandemic caused by a coronavirus and her restrictions have seriously affected the test work, new items are placed on different machines. While they are kept in secret (not even to photograph the interior of the racing trucks!), but the eye catches the obvious difference in the layout of the driver’s seat. Nikolaev, for example, there is no lever to right of seat, 6-speed automatic transmission is controlled by buttons, but the pilot is under the steering wheel there are the “petals” with which he can manually select the level. But Sotnikov in the truck next to the chair stands a pedestal, which is crowned by the usual selector “machine”. But there is also the opportunity to go to manual mode.

But what the pilots agree, is that the automatic transmission has simplified their work and allows you to focus on driving and finding the perfect trajectories on the road and not on shifting. Whether such differences more than the preferences of racers question. But hardly “KAMAZ-master” is doing something just like that…

The second point is how the drivers operate their trucks. Edward puts before turning the car sideways almost 90 degrees — this formulation would be the envy of other pilots RDS GP! and actively uses the entire width of the track, passing through bends in the emphasis on external side, where the thumb is already impressive size clay “Board”. Dmitry chooses a more level areas (it is possible that sparing passengers) — for example, in the same turn where going outside Nikolaev, Sotnikov takes the inside and pushes something that is not based on “overboard,” but even just not getting in a rut is formed.

There are other nuances. For example, on the winding section where the truck cab roof and rear view mirror touches the branches of the pines, Edward keeps both hands on the wheel, and Dmitry, some even enviable ease rotates the “wheel” with one hand. Go while both drivers with the same speed over 70 km/h. Recall, that in the area where the road width is slightly greater than the width of the machine, zone of departure is not in sight, and instead of a soft bump — trees. It seems that each racer your key to success behind the wheel of a KAMAZ-43509. And, judging by the fact that among the pilots of “KAMAZ-master” is not an outsider, athletes equally well able to settle into the cab of the truck.

Thanking the riders, we return to the base of the “Blue Armada”, and the riders arrive there in an hour and a half after us. During the quarantine team though working remotely and to conduct remote tests of racing cars is not able one, so now every opportunity to drive behind the wheel pilots use in full. “In the optimal form is not returned, so there is where to add” — says Nikolaev. Judging from what we have seen and experienced, the competitors of the Russian team for the upcoming “Dakar” in January 2021 th is unlikely to smile…

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