STAGE 5 Dakar 2022: trial, navigation and battle for seconds
The reason for getting stuck of Andrey Karginov’s truck at yesterday’s stage became an automatic transmission. The driver went almost the entire special stage without an ability to accelerate above 115 kmh and waiting for which gear the transmission would switch on by its own. The automatic transmission got into the “neutral” position at the worst possible moment – in the middle of a swampy dried up river bed not far from the finish line.
Mutual assistance is one of the main principles in relations between people at the legendary Dakar Rally. “Today you helped, and tomorrow you will be helped” – such an informal motto accompanies the riders from year to year, whether it is Africa, South America or the Middle East. On Wednesday, Lithuanians Vaidotas Paskevicius, Slavomir Volkov and Tomas Guzauskas rescued the crew of Andrey Karginov, Andrey Mokeev and Ivan Malkov from the mud captivity. Already at the bivouac in Riyadh, KAMAZ residents warmly thanked them for their help and presented them team’s souvenirs.
It seemed that yesterday’s unpleasant surprises for Chelny residents would have finished. But late in the evening, the race stewards imposed penalties on many participants in various categories. Penalization also affected three KAMAZ-master crews: Eduard Nikolaev received two minutes for overspeeding, Dmitry Sotnikov and Andrey Karginov received one each. Thus, the Russian team lost a triple podium at the end of the stage – Sotnikov changed the third place to fourth, while strengthening his lead in the general classification.
The fourth competition day turned out unsuccessful for the driver from Andorra Albert Llovera – his IVECO truck made a long jump and hit the dune ridge with its nose part. Serious damage to the front axle and suspension was not repaired overnight and did not allow the crew to get to the start of the fifth special stage. The team now expects to complete the repair within a day. In turn, mechanics of the KAMAZ-master team revived the gearbox in the truck of Andrey Karginov, and in the morning crew No 509 was ready for the race.
On Thursday, the rally caravan was divided into two parts – the moto representatives went to the 346-kilometer special stage south of Riyadh, and the car participants – to the north of the capital of Saudi Arabia, where 395 off-road kilometers were waiting for them. Due to the partial coincidence of the route with the sixth stage, the organizers hid the map in the interests of sporting fairness until January 7, making it impossible to track movement of the Dakar participants in real time.
The first part of the special stage fell on the high-speed roads along the Najd plateau, after which the first killing stone trial began on the Dakar 2022. The 10-kilometer stretch seriously reduced the speed of the sports crews: the trucks scrambled slowly uphill over the stones, straining their engines, and in case of a dead-end road, descended backwards to the bottom in order to re-assault the ridge.
Then there was about 100 kilometers of difficult navigation on sandy tracks with hidden stones. In this section, keeping the tires intact was an important condition for a successful finish. And all this is surrounded by magnificent valleys and winding canyons. The stage compilers did not also forget about the sand dunes, which covered 38% of the entire surface of the route and run in sequence with fast sandy tracks. At the end of the sports day, the crews had to show special attention to navigation – numerous tracks could lead the riders in the wrong direction.
The winner of yesterday’s stage, Eduard Nikolaev, was the first to go to the special stage in the truck category after the top 30 of the consolidated classification of the car category. To open the way for the multi-ton conquerors of the Arabian Peninsula was not an easy task. The abundance of stones initially corrected the racing pace: the risk of bumping into a large and sharp stone was too great, which made it necessary to be careful, clearing the way for rivals.
A beautiful struggle for the result was confrontation between Dmitry Sotnikov and Janus van Kasteren. The leader of the team, Gerard de Rooy, in the first part of the route faced difficulties in navigation and allowed the leader of the entire race to pass him by, and in the sands Sotnikov’s crew finally pulled away from the rival. Later, the navigation issue had to be resolved by the KAMAZ-master crews as well. A control point was not taken in the dune section, and three Russian trucks at once with van Kasteren and buggies that joined them began to solve the puzzle. Eduard Nikolaev was the first to finish, and the rest crews followed him to the finish line.
The best time of the day at the finish line was shown by Andrey Karginov, the only one from the team from Naberezhnye Chelny who avoided difficulties with finding necessary control points. During the special stage, his crew showed the same time as Dmitry Sotnikov, and the final 50-kilometer sector became decisive – 4 hours 1 minute 2 seconds. The current Dakar winner lost four and a half minutes.
Andrey Karginov, driver of crew No 509: “Today there was a working special stage: there were a lot of stones and winding paths where you could find your own trajectory, cut it, especially that our trucks allowed to do it. We took a high pace from the start, tried to roll the trucks in front and were able to overtake six rivals. At such moments, you see advantage of KAMAZ and our crews, which can go faster than other representatives of the classification. We tried to stay closer to our guys to help them promptly with spare parts if something happened.”
Dmitry Sotnikov, driver of crew No 500: “A fairly fast and varied day with a good dune section. The main thing today was to save the wheels. In one of the dune sections we were on the right course, but the point did not open in any way – three KAMAZ trucks and van Kasteren on IVECO had to deal with the search. It was not easy for the leading crews to open the stage, and those who started from behind saw a good trail and dust in the distance, which allowed them to pull up quickly. Therefore, there were such dense results.”
21 seconds decided the fate of the third place – this how Shibalov’s crew was faster than Eduard Nikolaev. Van Kasteren and Loprais finished the day a couple of minutes behind.
Anton Shibalov, driver of crew No 501: “There were many stones and riverbeds that had dried up, fast roads, dunes. Van Kasteren was driving on the stones very quickly, it was clear that he risked, trying to win back the time, and in the sands we got ahead of him and went into the lead. We didn’t experience any difficulties today, unless we had to figure out a bit with navigation, but there were many crews, everyone was looking for the point.”
Eduard Nikolaev, driver of crew No 505: “The stage was similar to yesterday’s, only stones added. I started first and I had to push a lot of stones, I had to be careful. You had to be very attentive, to drive carefully in order not to puncture. The second half of the special stage added speed. On one of the kilometers in the middle of the distance, there was difficult navigation; four trucks and buggies met in search of a point. We were the first to cope with the task, and the others saw it and we together drove to the finish line across the dunes. From the side it was interesting to watch the new truck of Dima Sotnikov, with whom we drove together for almost half of the stage. After all, we drive the same trucks, and today we managed to take a close look at them in the race.”
The gaps between the crews at the fifth special stage were minimal. Five drivers were in the top three in in terms of time in the race. Janus van Kasteren and Ales Loprais attacked with all their might, the latter at 121 km and was just three seconds behind Anton Shibalov, who was leading at that time. After 300 kilometers of travel, the first and tenth crews were separated by 11 minutes, and the results were dense in the struggle for the top 10.
Janus van Kasteren, driver of crew No 504:“I try to go fast, we need to put pressure on KAMAZ trucks, but they go even faster. Today we faced some difficulties, because of which we had to slow down and waste time. It is very difficult to get ahead of the Russian racers in the sands and dunes. «
Ales Loprais, driver of crew No 508: “It was a difficult day. We had to solve navigational puzzles, cope with rocks and dunes. It is a pleasure to compete with the guys from KAMAZ-master – they are real professionals who know their job. I can compare them to a football team, where everyone relies on a teammate and helps each other. Dmitry Sotnikov is a crazy racer, he drives very fast. It is difficult to compete with him, but we expect that we will be able to win at one of the special stages.”
The sixth stage of the Dakar 2022 will take place in Riyadh on Friday. For the car classification, the circuit route will be 438 kilometers, and after the finish, the teams will go on a long-awaited rest day.
Truck Category. Results of the 5th Stage. Top 10
|5||504||Janus VAN KASTEREN||IVECO||04:09:49||00:08:47|
|7||506||Martin VAN DEN BRINK||IVECO||04:16:33||00:15:31|
|9||523||Maurik VAN DEN HEUVEL||INTERNATIONAL||04:20:31||00:19:29|
Truck Category. General Classification after the 5th Stage. Top 10.
|4||504||Janus VAN KASTEREN||IVECO||20:01:36||00:52:16|
|7||506||Martin VAN DEN BRINK||IVECO||20:56:06||01:46:46|
|8||523||Maurik VAN DEN HEUVEL||INTERNATIONAL||21:37:07||02:27:47|
|10||522||Richard DE GROOT||IVECO||22:13:44||03:04:24|