The ancient city of Jeddah, located in the western part of Saudi Arabia launched the start of the international Dakar Rally. After 11 years in South America, the multi-day offroad racing marathon moved on to Saudi Arabia, becoming the 30th country to host the race.
Using the backdrop of the Red Sea, organisers arranged a real festival for the starting ceremony before the start of the main event of 2020. The teams were introduced amongst a packed rally mad crowd, including the KAMAZ-master team contesting the truck (T4) category, all sporting new 13 litre engine sizes to adhere to new season regulations. The KAMAZ-master team will be represented by four crews, including the #500 team of defending Dakar champion Eduard Nikolaev.
“Administrative checks and scrutineering went well. Today was the ceremonial start of the Dakar, and already tomorrow the first special stage awaits us. By the mood of the contestants of the truck category and preparation of the vehicles, it is apparent that everyone plans to show a good result, many crews want to be on the podium,” said Eduard Nikolaev.
“The battle will be serious, the organizers made many innovations in order to equalize capabilities of the teams in navigation. Considering, that Saudi Arabia is a new region and its landscapes are little known, everything in the race can start from scratch,” added the five-time winner of the Golden Bedouin.
As darkness fell over Jeddah, applause greeted the four KAMAZ-master teams crossing the starting arch, heading north on January 5th with the first stage route Jeddah – Al-Wajh including a 433 kilometer liaison along the coast and 319 kilometer speed section a short distance from the Red Sea.
The 342 vehicles contesting the almost 8000 km across the 12 stages over January 5th to 17th, includes 129 in the car category, 167 bike contestant and the 46 crews in the trucks.
The KAMAZ-master teams are as follows:
#500 Driver Eduard Nikolaev, co-driver Evgenii Iakovlev, mechanic Vladimir Rybakov
#501 Driver Dmitry Sotnikov, co-driver Ruslan Akhmadeev, mechanic Ilgiz Akhmetzianov
#511 Driver Andrey Karginov, co-driver Andrey Mokeev, mechanic Igor Leonov
#516 Driver Anton Shibalov, co-driver Dmitrii Nikitin, mechanic Ivan Tatarinov
Info and images courtesy of www.kamazmaster.ru