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Dmitry Sotnikov: "We tried to choose a balance between pace and reliability"

10.01.2022

The eighth stage of the Dakar 2022 again became one of the longest this year. After 402 kilometers of Sunday's special stage, on Monday the rally caravan was to overcome 395 kilometers. The course from Al-Dawadimi laid south - to Wadi-ad-Dawasir.  

Saudi Arabia is famous for its deserts, and it is logical that most part of the route runs through dunes and sands. The 65-kilometer start line was rich in variety - a sandy stretch with a drive through small dunes, narrow roads with lots of stones and wet gravel cover turning into off-road. Then - more serious dunes of the second and third levels of difficulty. One mistake when steering the wheel and pressing the gas or brake pedal guarantees you to get stuck in the sand.

What is the Dakar without complicated navigation? After the 140 km mark and until the very finish, the track became faster. However, there were more traps: the regular change of locations from the valley to dry river beds and back could easily confuse navigators. Thus, the first assistants of drivers once again had to take the initiative to get their crews in the right direction. And many contestants were at a great risk of ending the sports day at nightfall due to the route difficulty.

And so it happened. By 18:00 Moscow time only 29 crews (some of which received many hours of penalty for not taking way points) out of 52 started in the truck classification appeared at the finish line. This is the Dakar with its heavy routes. And for the KAMAZ-master crews Monday was stable. Anton Shibalov faced with the situation when one of the cars in front did not let him overrun, that slowed down his pace and caused loss of time. This was especially evident in one of the dunes of the third difficulty level. The car skidded in front of following him KAMAZ and could not overpass the high dune from the first time, thus making the Russian crew to go on the second circle as well.

Anton Shibalov, driver of crew No 501: “Our crew started first and it was not easy. Almost immediately we found ourselves in the dunes of the second and third difficulty levels, it was hard to drive without truck tracks. But slowness of the contestants to let them overrun interfered more. In front of the dune, we gave a signal to one car for a long time, but they still did not let us ahead. And this place turned out very difficult: the third level, a high, clumsy dune with several ascents. The car could not take it on the move, which slowed down our movement as well. I had to go down, accelerate and storm the dune for the second time. It also took time to go around another dune. In the electronic roadbook, the navigator cannot always see the beginning of the dune sections in advance, this also affects the mechanics, who cannot release the tire pressure before entering the dunes. Due to slowdowns our other crews caught up with us and passed us by, and the rest part we drove in the dust, losing time at pace. We didn’t have problems with the vehicle and navigation today."

Eduard Nikolaev faced with mechanical problems today. Even in the first half of the distance, the steering mechanism in his truck began to hiccup. For the sake of a safe finish, the crew decided not to take risks on the track and slowed down. In the end this tactical decision turned out correct. It was not always possible to cope with giant dunes and the leader of the truck category Dmitry Sotnikov.

Eduard Nikolaev, driver of crew No 505: “It was an interesting special stage with an exchange of positions. We lost a bit in the sands - there were problems in the dunes of the third difficulty level. Several times we could not overpass the dunes, as they were very viscous. We faced with technical problems - the steering gear didn’t work properly. We inspected it on neutralization area, but didn’t find anything. On the second part we drove very carefully, we did not take risks, because problems with the steering were fraught with danger. Fortunately, everything ended well and we could finish. "

The first time at the finish of the eighth special stage was shown by Dmitry Sotnikov's crew - 3 hours 56 minutes 42 seconds. Andrey Karginov lost more than three minutes, Eduard Nikolaev finished the day six minutes behind. The fourth was Anton Shibalov, who lost almost nine minutes to the winner.

Dmitry Sotnikov, driver of crew No 500: “We are doing well at the finish, there were no losses. The first half of the stage was completely sandy, there were dunes of the second and third difficulty levels, and they were different from the previous days - they were much drier and softer, and all the participants had enough problems. We ourselves could not drive in a straight way everywhere, we even had to go around one dune. I didn't see our main rivals in the neutralization zone. As far as I understand, they are having difficulties in the dunes. The second half was with a hard road surface, beautiful canyons and rocky channels, with little trial and almost no dunes. On the fast, rocky and navigational part of the route, we tried to find a balance between pace and reliability.”

Team members, media representatives and fans, tracking rally caravan’s movement on the map of the Dakar resources in real-time, for some time lost some of the participants in the truck classification from the monitor. Did they get lost in the canyons and riverbeds? The final time of the main Russian rival the Czech Ales Loprais, the Chilean Ignacio Casale, who won three times in the Dakar on a quad, and other drivers were not displayed on the virtual scoreboard for a long time. At the same time, their trucks by this time were already moving along the liaison towards the bivouac. The reason was a technical problem on the organizers' website.

Meanwhile, in the dunes, where every minute is valuable, a particularly sharp battle started. At the CPs, the trucks were separated by a few minutes. Martin van den Brink started the race confidently and maintained the pace of the leaders until he faced with difficulties on the sandy hills, losing about 20 minutes. Later, the Dutchman slowed down and finished the day 11th, with a gap of 50 minutes. His son Mitchell is in two positions and two minutes behind.

Gert Huzink on his hybrid Renault also could not drive without stops and at around 300 kilometers he lost about 25 minutes. For the second time the Lithuanian Vaidotas Paskevicius finished in the top ten at his debut Dakar, ahead of many leading rally-raid veterans. Ignacio Casale showed his best result in the 2022 race - he finished fifth, and two Tatras appeared in the top 10 at once.

In the general classification, Dmitry Sotnikov's crew consolidated their advantage over the closest chaser to 11 and a half minutes. Difficulties in the dunes have shaken Ales Loprais' standings position. Now the driver in Praga is almost an hour and a half behind the leader and is only 12 minutes ahead of Andrey Karginov.

It didn’t do without sad news. Today, two Russian participants announced their abandoning the Dakar route. Sergei Kariakin and Anton Vlasiuk couldn’t repair the truck after Sunday's accident and finished their performance in the SSV standings, and Aleksander Maksimov, who claimed the victory in the SSV class, retired due to engine problems. The crew of the truck driven by Albert Llovera also made a technical withdrawal.

On Tuesday, the racers will have another loop stage. The length of the special stage in the Wadi-ad-Dawasir area will be 287 kilometers.

Truck Category. Ranking of the 8th Stage. Top 10

Pos.

Name

Make

Time

Gap

1

500

Dmitry SOTNIKOV

KAMAZ

03:56:42

00:00:00

2

509

Andrey KARGINOV

KAMAZ

03:59:53

00:03:11

3

505

Eduard NIKOLAEV

KAMAZ

04:02:53

00:06:11

4

501

Anton SHIBALOV

KAMAZ

04:05:40

00:08:58

5

511

Ignasio CASALE

TATRA

04:16:52

00:20:10

6

508

Ales LOPRAIS

PRAGA

04:18:44

00:22:02

7

503

Martin MACIK

IVECO

04:22:59

00:26:17

8

504

Janus VAN KASTEREN

IVECO

04:31:01

00:34:19

9

522

Richard DE GROOT

IVECO

04:35:17

00:38:35

10

529

Vaidotas PASKEVICIUS

TATRA

04:44:29

00:47:47

             

 

Truck Category. General Classification after the 8th Stage. Top 10

Pos.

Name

Make

Time

Gap

1

500

Dmitry SOTNIKOV

KAMAZ

30:02:36

00:00:00

2

505

Eduard NIKOLAEV

KAMAZ

30:14:01

00:11:25

3

501

Anton SHIBALOV

KAMAZ

30:42:59

00:40:23

4

508

Ales LOPRAIS

PRAGA

31:32:03

01:29:27

5

509

Andrey KARGINOV

KAMAZ

31:43:37

01:41:01

6

504

Janus VAN KASTEREN

IVECO

32:13:46

02:11:10

7

506

Martin VAN DEN BRINK

IVECO

32:51:44

02:49:08

8

515

Victor VERSTEIJNEN

IVECO

34:01:49

03:59:13

9

503

Martin MACIK

IVECO

34:32:24

04:29:48

10

522

Richard DE GROOT

IVECO

34:58:57

04:56:21

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