''Every rally of KAMAZ-Master is like a serious military operation''

How the warriors of the Chinese Terracotta Army became a neighbour of Buddha in the Cabinet of Ministers

''Every rally of KAMAZ-Master is like a serious military operation'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

On 23 August, Rustam Minnikhanov met with KAMAZ-Master team in the White Hall of the Tatarstan Presidential Residency. After the successful season, 18 members of the crew were given awards of the Republic of Tatarstan. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

''You prove that our team, our pilots, operators, our cars are the best!''

Classic music performed by musicians at the entrance to the White Hall emphasised the solemnity of the atmosphere. But the athletes were not allowed to sit on their laurels. Head of the Tatarstan President's Apparatus Asgat Safarov congratulated KAMAZ-Autosport Non-commercial Partnership, director of Silk Way Rally Vladimir Chagin on a new victory and reminded they could not relax. Participation in Dakar rally is ahead.

The Tatarstan president congratulated KAMAZ-Master on the end of the next stable successful season. He noted that proved the world it is the best team:

''You symbolise reliability, speed, professionalism and loyalty to your job. KAMAZ-Master has been a long-time winner and medallist of different competitions for many years. You are four-time Dakar super marathon winners, seven-time winners of Silk Way international rally, four-time winners of Africa Eco Race rally marathon.''

In Rustam Minnikhanov's opinion, last season's success was achieved thanks to a smart and well-coordinated job of the team under Vladimir Chagin who is a seven-time winner of Dakar and the course on renewal that began in 2012. Experienced masters prepared a substitution for themselves, and young athletes are showing decent results. Young crews already managed to show themselves: KAMAZ athletes occupied the entire Dakar podium in 2013 (Eduard Nikolaev was 1 st), Andrey Karginov's crew was 1st in Dakar in 2014. In 2015, the Dakar podium belonged to KAMAZ again (Airat Mardeyev was 1st). In addition, Anton Shibalov's crew won Africa Eco Race three times (in 2013, 2015, 2016).

''You will give unforgettable emotions to fans and continue writing the bright history of auto and motor sport in Russia,'' Rustam Minnikhanov addressed the athletes.'' Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

In Silk Way Rally in July 2017, which kicked off in Moscow and finished in Xi'an, the team crews conquered the entire podium of the most difficult marathon by rally raid standards. The participants had to cover 9,599 km within two weeks, of which 4,094 km were special stages, visit 14 cities, go through the Tian Shan mountain ranges and the incandescent Gobi Desert.

''Thanks to your successes, thousands of people became interested in auto sport and decided to link their life with mechanical engineering. New victories are waiting for you in the future, the rivals are very serious. You will give unforgettable emotions to fans and continue writing the bright history of auto and motor sport in Russia,'' Rustam Minnikhanov addressed the athletes. ''I thank you for the dedicated labour and heroism because every rally is like a serious military operation. You prove that our team, our pilots, operators, our cars are the best!''

''We still have some awards!''

Before giving the KAMAZ-Master team members state awards of the republic, the Tatarstan president complained ''we almost have our own awards. Don't worry, we still have some!''

Workers of KAMAZ-Autosport Non-commercial Partnership were awarded the order ''For Merits to the Republic of Tatarstan'': navigator of the crew that finished third Aidar Belyaev and navigator of the crew that was second Andrey Mokeyev.

Navigator of the crew that became the winner Ruslan Akhmadeyev, pilot of the crew that was first Dmitry Sotnikov and pilot of the crew that came second Anton Shibalov were awarded a medal of the Republic of Tatarstan ''For Valorous Labour''.

Senior engineer Robert Amatych and milling machine operator Irek Giniyatov were given a title ''Honourable Machine Engineer of the Republic of Tatarstan''.

Pilot of the crew that finished third Airat Mardeyev, operator of the crew that was thid Dmitry Svistunov and test driver of the factory Ildar Shaisultanov became ''Honourable Transport Workers of the Republic of Tatarstan''.

As one of the Silk Way rally stages was in China, Rustam Minnikhanov was given a statuette of the warrior of the Chinese Terracotta Army. Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

KAMAZ-Master prepared its presents for the Tatarstan head. As one of the Silk Way rally stages was in China, Rustam Minnikhanov was given a statuette of the warrior of the Chinese Terracotta Army.

''We have a statue of Buddha in the government's building. We will put it next to it,'' the Tatarstan president reacted.

A sculpture of a horse was the second gift. In China, this animal is considered a symbol of success and luck.

''We built a completely new truck for this engine''

In his return speech as director of the project, Vladimir Chagin pointed out the Tatarstan stage as one of the best in the rally. According to him, Tatarstan has good experience in holding sports events. He thanked the Tatarstan president for his attention to the races. This time the list of race participants was serious. And the competition was tough from the very beginning, and the fight lasted until the finish. But ''the guys performed all the race with a correct technique and strategy. In addition, we are glad that this year's prizes White Tigers have not gone anywhere but remained in our country!''

Later in an interview to journalists, Vladimir Chagin told the team participated in Silk Way in updated cars. And everybody was ready because it would take time to adapt to it and they could even miss the podium this time. The difficult wind rally roads demonstrated who of the pilots was the best and whose cars could pass these tests. The KAMAZ-Master team demonstrated itself very well.

In January, the team will participate in Dakar that will be in Peru this time. Vladimir Chagin said this time the preparation schedule is very tight, there are many ideas to implement technical developments.

As director of the project Vladimir Chagin pointed out the Tatarstan stage as one of the best in the rally. Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

Pilot who won the race Dmitry Sotnikov told the crews always have motivation for victory despite many conquered awards.

''We have one goal – KAMAZ must be ahead!'' the pilot set a goal. ''Dakar is ahead, we will need to train the crew and continue testing the cars.''

According to Dmitry Savostin, he competed in Silk Way in a car with a new engine. He is also going to participate in Dakar with a 13-litre engine. All the trucks are going to be equipped with these engines.

''We built a completely new truck for this engine. The car seriously changed, but it is reliable and competitive. We will update the car and present the optimal version by Dakar,'' Savoston shared his plans. ''We prepare our cars like constructors look for something new in Formula One.''

Major rival of the KAMAZ athletes Gerard de Rooy also presented his new vehicle. As the KAMAZ pilot said, he completely changed the construction of the car, made a truck with independent suspension. In Dmitry Savostin's opinion, the truck is prospective and fast even if it lacks reliability now. But the KAMAZ-Master crews won't be able to compete with the Dutchman in Dakar in speed: the two-time winner of Dakar will participate in Africa Eco Race instead of the race in South America.

By Evgenia Gazizova