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The fight in the Russian Rally Raid Championship escalates before the final — Reportage

The race “Kagan’s Gold” continues – the crews are dropping out, passions are heating up. We receive information about the rally-raid in the literal sense from first hand: in this report, we will give the floor to the pilots themselves. By the way, the riders and team leaders took the time to tell us how to become a factory team pilot…

The third day of the “Gold of Kagan” race was held in the Krasnoyarsk and Kharabalinsky districts of the Astrakhan region. Mileage is impressive – 233 km. There are no sands on this day, which does not mean an easy trip. The Astrakhan rally is an endless hummock, shaking and endless steppe with treacherous pits and deep ruts. In general, do not relax.

GAZ Reid Sport

At rally-raids, there are practically no simple days, and in Astrakhan they are generally excluded by definition.

Today it was harder than at the Special Stage-2, which we remembered today with a smile, – said Sergey Vyazovich, the leader of the MAZ Sport-auto team. It turns out that it can be even more difficult. Today there was a low average speed, a hummock, without a road, and kilometers stretched for an unrealistically long time. All roads were tumbleweed, often driving blind.

GAZ Reid Sport

The Belarusian crew at the Astrakhan race gives all the best. Why? The first reason is that Vyazovich does not know how otherwise – he is a kind of berserk of motorsport, giving his all to every race. The second reason is that the Russian and Belarusian teams – the leaders of Dakar – now have nowhere to race, and even previously not very significant competitions have become significant. Previously, for both KAMAZ Master and MAZ Sport Auto, the Russian championship was a training session, reconnaissance in battle. Victory in it is desirable, but not so important. There were years when seven KamAZ trucks arrived at one stage! With service personnel, the team clearly numbered more than a hundred people. At breakfast, the dining room was all blue from KAMAZ T-shirts!

GAZ Reid Sport

It is worth recognizing that it is almost impossible to overtake a team of 5-7 sports KamAZ trucks. If there are five KamAZ trucks, then three of them are the main ones, and two are technical ones. The latter also rush for all the money, but their main task is to ensure the victory of the first three cars. If for some reason the leader lags behind, then the nearest crew immediately takes his place, and the whole team works for him. You can overtake one crew, but it is almost impossible to defeat a large and strong team! Now fewer cars have arrived, and the reason seems to be the economy of spare parts. They are being cherished for the Silk Road, the most significant marathon of 2023.

Young crews

Before the start of the “Gold of Kagan” race, the pilot of the KAMAZ Master team, five-time Dakar champion Eduard Nikolaev said:

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This is a kind of warm-up for both equipment and people before such a serious rally as the Silk Way. “Kagan’s Gold” allows you to check the technique, set up the suspension well, and understand the route. Feel how difficult the off-road conditions are in the Astrakhan part of the route, because for several years the Silk Way Rally took place either nearby or partially in the same area (last year the Astrakhan stage of the Silk Road was the stage of the Russian Championship – ed.). Now the team is preparing two new cars for the season, we have scheduled their tests for May. But at Zoloto Kagan-2023 we also have an interesting program, we focus it more on getting into the hands of the pilots themselves and testing the future of our team – the younger generation. These are night mechanics, and crew mechanics, and navigators. The carriages will be driven by the young train with which we started working two years ago. Bogdan Karimov showed good results for us, and we continue along the same path, we do not stop in place. Then we will have young guys-pilots. Now Danil Telepov will go as a mechanic in the crew of Andrey Karginov. In the same crew, Ivan Malkov will go as a navigator, who previously traveled with Andrey as a mechanic, and now he will be Danil’s mentor. In the second crew, with Airat Mardeev, the participation of new guys is also planned. The navigator will be Sergei Krenev, who previously acted as a combat mechanic in the crew of Sergei Kupriyanov. And Ilmir Sitdikov, a novice athlete, a novice mechanic, who has proven himself very well among our guys who are engaged in engineering, will go as a mechanic in this crew.

Become a Champion

The path of becoming a pilot in auto racing is very difficult. The main reason is money. Any motor sport is expensive, and not everyone can afford to do it. Many famous pilots started their journey in karting – this is the best option. In Naberezhnye Chelny, under the patronage of the KAMAZ Master team, the KAMAZ-Master Junior program to support young athletes has been successfully operating for several years. The selection of promising athletes takes place in the karting section. In professional teams, pilots must pass the path: mechanic – navigator – pilot.

GAZ Reid Sport

Almost all members of the cargo department of our team work at the Gorky Automobile Plant, – said the head of the cargo department of the GAZ Reid Sport team Mikhail Shklyaev – Either test drivers or mechanics. People come to us in the sports department of GAZ, work as mechanics and thoroughly understand the structure of the car. Those who are really passionate about sports begin to travel as navigators. Here they already see the race from a different angle. The physical abilities of a person are also important. On the rally-raid track, there is constant swotting, the dynamic loads are colossal. And the navigator must read the road book – those who are even slightly motion sick are not capable of this. So the selection for health is also very serious. The most gifted and trained guys after passing the test become pilots. Having passed the path of a mechanic, the pilot understands the limits of the car’s capabilities and goes “all the money”, while not killing the sports car. Navigational experience makes it possible to adapt to the racing regime. In the future, it is much easier for a pilot who has been in the shoes of a navigator to establish communications with his navigator.

GAZ Reid Sport

In the event of a breakdown, an experienced crew can quickly diagnose the malfunction and eliminate it, if this is possible in the field. While working in the sports department, we evaluate not only the capabilities of a person, but also his sports mood. We select real fighters whose eyes are burning, while not losing their heads in the most difficult conditions.

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Some of our pilots, navigators and mechanics are actively racing in other disciplines. So, Aleksey Khlebov, a regular driver of GAZ Sadko NEXT, became the owner of the Russian Cup 2022 in the classic rally. At the same time, Khlebov was a navigator. As you can see, the way to the Champions in rally raids is not easy and not fast.

Loss, loss…

The weather is improving, the wind is strong, but slightly warmer. The G-FORCE Motorsport team lost two-thirds of its members in three days: on the first day, the crew of Andrey Rudsky on the G-Force Bars prototype dropped out, on the third day, the crew of Andrey Novikov on the G-Force T-3GF prototype dropped out – the flywheel was split and turned motor at the back. G-Force prototypes are interesting, but alas, they regularly drop out of the competition. Although Boris Gadasin on the G-Force T-3GF prototype on the third day showed the best result in the T3 category.

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I have been riding in the Astrakhan region for more than 20 years, – said Boris Gadasin – The Astrakhan race is a classic and correct rally-raid, where you can ride on the tracks 25 times, but this will not help you remember all the roads, uneven terrain and pits. The organizers laid down the track in a very interesting way. It is clear that all potential roads and directions have already been traveled up and down, but even for me, interest in Astrakhan does not decrease.

The failures that followed the previous day left the GAZ Reid Sport team.

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The road was taxiing, fast, – said the pilot of the GAZ Reid Sport team Alexander Rusanov – They attacked, everything worked out, they overtook a lot of cars, they did not experience any problems. The car worked like clockwork, blissed out. The race was held in one breath, great pleasure received in contrast to the previous days. We occupy the second position in the class, and it is difficult to win back the lost 1.5 hours, unless there are technical difficulties for the opponents. But we do not give up, we will fight to the last, there are no options here. The main thing is that the car is in good working order.

GAZ Reid Sport

Aleksey Ignatov also rode well on the new Gazelle NN.

Today it was a little easier for us, the road is faster,” said Alexei Ignatov. There were places and uneven, but a lot of high-speed sections. We, the representatives of the classic rally, like such roads. We made it through the day with no technical problems. And the result is more worthy than yesterday. Let’s write down in our experience box that we need to choose a more gentle pace, and we will try to overcome the sands in the same way as today – without any special difficulties.

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But the main intrigue was in the rivalry between MAZ and KAMAZ. Sergey Vyazovich (MAZ) seems to have decided to keep the car and slowed down a bit. Andrey Karginov (KAMAZ) was 13 minutes behind Vyazovich in the first two days and managed to win back almost 9 minutes, showing the best result of the day.

GAZ Reid Sport

According to the results of the day, Vyazovich is fifth, but he retains the lead following the results of three days of competition.

The day went well, the track was opened today. For 50 kilometers before the finish line, they made a single mistake in navigation. But we had a margin of time, which allowed us to let our main rival approach us. We drove very carefully so as not to break the car and remain first in the general classification. Andrey Karginov managed to win back a good chunk of time, but did not catch up, so we had a temporary advantage in our favor on the last day. Tomorrow we have an advantageous position, but for Andrei – the opposite. This will be the decisive day. We have a four-minute handicap left, this is not so much, so we will not go at a pace to hold, but to attack.

For the KAMAZ Master team, any result other than victory is a failure. For the team from Naberezhnye Chelny, it is fundamentally important to take first place in Astrakhan.

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It’s a good day today,” pilot Andrey Karginov said. It is difficult to describe the Astrakhan tracks: the terrain is very difficult, the roads are killer, somewhere there are high-speed ones, and if you drive at maximum speed (the speed limit for trucks is 140 km / h – ed.), then you need constant concentration of attention, as it can happen anything. Often we ride next to the road and constantly have to vary and choose where it is smoother. Started fifth overall and quickly overtook three SUVs. We realized that we were going second behind the crew of Sergei Vyazovich, and we tried to make up for the time lost yesterday. Managed to do it. True, they stopped once – they were reinsured when they smelled oil, but they realized that it was nothing serious, and drove on. Tomorrow we will try to fight to the last!

All are tuned to hard rubilovo. On the final day, the moment of truth will come! /m

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