‘Zubrs’ conquer desert

Two Belarusian crews struggle fiercely for desired victory in world famous Dakar Rally
By Dmitry Baranovsky

Minsk Automobile Works’ third rally entry, in trucks driven by Sergey Vyazovich and Alexander Vasilevsky, is thought to be the most exciting yet, with a far greater chance of success, notes crew leader Valery Kozlovsky. He explains that the vehicles have been improved, saying, “Our engineers have made them lighter, by using high-strength steel and lighter composite materials. The vehicles are a third lighter than in 2012 and 300kg lighter than last year. Meanwhile, we’ve increased the engine power by 50HP, while being more eco-friendly.”

Ecological requirements are being highlighted at the Dakar Rally, with any smoking vehicles likely to be removed from the race. Improving trucks’ eco-performance is not difficult however.

The recent race began with three identical Belarusian vehicles: two for the race, plus a third loaded with spare parts. Unfortunately, the ‘back up’ truck ran into problems during the first stage, but they were removed due to big time losses. Nevertheless, Alexander Polishchuk’s crew failed to pass the fourth special section. The remaining cars continued, challenging such traditional favourites as KAMAZ and Tatra. During the second stage, Sergey Vyazovich managed to enter the top ten — for the first time in the history of us taking part. He failed to maintain this position overall but Mr. Kozlovsky is delighted by the performance of our Belarusian vehicles this year. He comments, “Of course, we’d like to be among the top ten at the end of the race but we must understand that we don’t boast huge experience, taking part only for the third time. In 2012, we came 31st and occupied 21st and 27th places in 2013. It would be nice to jump by ten positions annually. Nevertheless, it’s vital to understand that the higher our crew rises in the tournament table, the sharper the competition. Teams come to Dakar in search of prizes, so the struggle is serious. However, we’re ready for it.”

The organisers of the current Dakar have seriously complicated the route, with a great deal of sand, barchans and steep descents. Neither of the previous Dakar rallies had such long and complex tracks. The special sections exceed 600km in length, with drivers covering around 800km daily. Clearly, it’s a challenging race, requiring utmost effort and bringing intrigue and uncertainty to the very end.
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