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The third day of Dakar-2019 was full of challenges and made significant changes in the table of the general classification. The 331-kilometer special stage on the route San Juan De Marcona - Arequipa in some places resembled a race for survival. After a mixed start (truck crews started mixed up with cars according to the results of yesterday’s stage) the participants were awaited by the hardest dune sections, where the fight took place both between the main contenders for medal places and the crews against the forces of nature. A strong dust storm impaired visibility at the stage and complicated search for the right directions in the desert. Knocking down wind and sand worked like a sandblasting machine.
 KAMAZ crews left the start in a “heap” and three of them, Andrey Karginov, Dmitry Sotnikov and Eduard Nikolaev, traveled together almost the entire route of the special stage. On the track there were three crossings of the asphalt road San Juan De Marcona - Arequipa, where was allowed the service of assistance teams. Unfortunately, at the very first point Airat Mardeev’s crew needed help - the front tyre inflation system failed. The problem was solved in approximately 6 minutes. But the misfortune of 502 crew did not end there. In one of the sand funnels, the truck got stuck in a "puff". The situation was worse by the fact that the truck of the Belarusian Aliaksei Vishneusky also got stuck there, his MAZ dangerously inclined and could leave the lace only after releasing Mardeev’s truck. The Belarusian crew of Siarhei Viazovich did not do this, leaving the problem to be solved to the third Belarusian crew of Aleksander Vasilevsky who arrived there in about 15 minutes. He helped the Russian to get out of the funnel. Then Mardeev’s crew was at a standstill on the 240th kilometer of the special stage due to a technical problem - a crack in the aluminum pipe of the turbocharging system. The crew fixed it on their own and drove on. And on his way he met Siarhei Viazovich’s crew, standing with a hub failure.

About how difficult the special stage was tells the fact that such experienced sand aces as Gerard De Rooy, Ales Loprais and Ton Genugten lost their time. Already on the first half of today's SS, Gerard was seriously stuck and lost a lot of time on one of the dunes. Eduard Nikolaev lost some time on short “stickings” in the sands. But everywhere he got out of the sand traps on his own.

Problems also occurred with the Czech teams. Already yesterday Ales Loprais lost a lot of time replacing two wheels. Today he was 85th to start and certainly it was difficult to get ahead. At some point, the oil from the under the hood pelted the windshield and he had to stop to clean it and restore visibility. And then, according to Alyosha, “the turbine made a vacation.” Worked for 80 percent, which in the conditions of the sand does not allow fast and reliable driving.

Around in the middle of the stage, the truck of Tatra Buggyra team leader Martin Kolomy had to stop. What happened there exactly is hard to say. Passing by crews saw only that either fuel or coolant was spilled under the Tatra.

“After the start of the special stage, everyone was waiting for what the first sands would be like. We drove into them and saw that they were very difficult, steep, sharp and slanting, - said Dmitry Sotnikov after the finish. - Gerard De Rooy was already hanging on the dune. On the frame, inclined. Eduard was standing a little higher, but he was fine, they saw a buggy that was going around this place. We also drove around. We followed Eduard. We saw strong car crews standing in the sands - Serradori and Vasilyev (the Russian Vladimir Vasilyev ended up abandoning the race due to a technical problem). The trajectories in the sands were quite chaotic. The slopes were dangerous and everyone was looking for better ways of driving. In some places we had to take them straight forward. We tried to be careful, but the bumper was damaged. There was a slight halt searching a way point at the exit of the dunes, and in the subsequent canyon route we lost about 7 minutes. The reason: first jeep, then motorcyclists blocked the narrow passage. We had to participate in clearing the road, helped the jeep and the motorcyclists." 

In this traffic jam in the canyon, the crews of Eduard Nikolaev and Andrey Karginov lost their time as well. The organizers returned to the crews of Sotnikov and Nikolaev the time spent on helping the contestants who got in a difficult situation there.

The head of KAMAZ-master Team, Vladimir Chagin, at the evening meeting praised KAMAZ members. With the exception of Airat Mardeev’s crew, who had bad luck today, the rest of the crew showed good time and stable driving. Andrey Karginov felt "his" track. As the navigator of his crew Andrey Mokeev said: “Our pilot drove us today!”. Karginov won today's stage. Despite the big gap, nothing is lost for Airat Mardeev. The whole race is still ahead. It is clear that Gerard De Rooy is also not going to give up. But especially dangerous in the current situation is the Argentinean Federico Villagra, going neck-to-neck with the Russians. 2 marathon days are ahead. On tomorrow's "closed" bivouac in Tacna, the race crews of the car and truck categories will spend the night separately from the assistance teams. The same autonomous bivouac for quad and bike riders will be organized in Moquegua. Sportsmen will have to deal with probable technical problems on their own. The main camp of the race remains at the military airbase in Arequipa until the rest day on 12 January.

Source Kamaz Master official press release

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