The reigning Dakar winner in the truck category, Eduard Nikolaev in an exclusive interview told about the expectations from the upcoming rally-RAID and preparation of the team “KAMAZ-Master”.
In Formula 1 very often say: depend on the machine 80% rider – 20%. Looks like you have the ratio of crew/vehicle? And the second question: in the crew to distribute the percentage between driver, Navigator and mechanic?
Eduard Nikolaev, Probably, everywhere equally, and the crew/car – 50 to 50. Of course, we are very dependent on our technology. When the machine breaks, there’s nothing we can do. Rather, depends on the damage. Sometimes the failure is serious when you have to go. But also, the crew can not cope with the navigation, or where the pilot-something not quite right went to turn and something happened, like a rollover.
In General, if we talk about the three members of the crew, here all on the cutting edge, but the greatest attention is required from the pilot and Navigator. As the pilot can bring the result, and the Navigator. The Navigator can take you, and you will lose time, and the pilot can prevent a serious mistake and damage the car. Well, the mechanic is fully responsible to the crew and team for preparing the car every day.
Who is going to stop the “KAMAZ-Master” on the way to the 15-th victory?
It is hoped that the upcoming Dakar rally will be similar to the classic rally, especially given the return to Peru?
Eduard Nikolaev: Is. Still, the organizers apparently listened to the statements in previous years, when, as on “Dakar-2017”, there were many floods and cancellations of special stages. On the upcoming race weather can also make their own adjustments, but the route will be Peru, and even if there are rains, the sand will not allow you to cancel the stage. Dunes though wet, but not insurmountable is proven on the “Silk road”.
Organizers of the “Dakar” promised seven days Sands complex, where participants from day one will have to deal with sandy slopes.
That’s a plus for the team?
Eduard Nikolaev: Yes, it’s rally-RAID. We always try to find places where things are hard for everyone. It is not just, as you said, classic rally – is it just the driving characteristics of the pilot impact. Complex plots with dirt, sand… In the race “silk road”, where the organizer, of course, directly “KAMAZ”, head of the project Vladimir G. Chagin is making adjustments to this competition was really a marathon, as it was in Africa, when the participants drove at 400-500 km and sprint for 100-200 km.
Some key points in the route can be set? Which require particularly high concentration?
Eduard Nikolaev: Concentration is important in the sand. Even if you are an experienced racer and you get to go on this cover, the Sands still always dangerous and treacherous, so you can never relax. This is from experience and examples. Of course, we will closely behave in order not to lose time and to drive consistently quickly. I think solutions will be it is on the stage with sand and difficult terrain.
How the global plan has changed the car: suspension, motor? Compared to the “Silk road” is the other machine?
Eduard Nikolaev: really “Silk road” on a new car were the crew of Dmitry Sotnikov, who won this rally. There was a new 13-liter engine with which we will be required to go to the “Dakar-2019” to all staff. These are the requirements for homologation. These tests we started on the “Silk road”. The car and the engine were good. On “Dakar” on this machine again will go to the crew Sotnikova, to travel the highlands and it was there to see how the motor behaves at high altitude.
We have every year on someone’s shoulders falls the heavy responsible work testing. Our crew first tested the engine Libherr on “Dakar” and “Silk road”, when we moved from Tutaev engine. Also, we were entrusted “kaputnik”, where we traveled the “silk road”. This year the management team was entrusted with the new engine the crew of Dmitry Sotnikov. Work is under way, we are all drivers test, give information of the team and any developments.
What cars will have other crews?
Eduard Nikolaev: We will go to almost last year’s models, but there are a lot of modifications. The most important thing – we changed the suspension. Engine and suspension – two very important factors in the car. We were transferred to the dampers with the springs, finally got them on the “Silk road”, and they showed themselves very well. I hope that in the Dakar they also won’t let us down and will keep a higher pace on the roads.
Externally, all the cars look the same, but in fact was also a lot of work on weight distribution. We slightly lowered the center of gravity, which will allow better to go fast on twisty roads, which we call classic for example the WRC.
But, of course, the car Sotnikova not only a new motor but has other weight cab that is offset at the front, allowing the crew to experience less shock and longer to keep the intense fast-paced, less lose of power.
You said about the number of sets of tires…
Eduard Nikolaev: 85 tires we carry. That’s about 23 wheels on every car.
Eduard Nikolaev: we’ve not even replaced. This does not happen, we will change all four wheels or two. Sometimes one, two, three.
What about the fuel consumption?
Eduard Nikolaev: different. It all depends on the conditions. In heavy sand the record was set on the engine TMZ – more than 200 liters short. In South America the maximum flow in the sand – 120-150 liters. On average 100-120 liters.
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