Trucks have been competing in The Dakar Rally since 1980. It was won by a Sonacome truck driven by the Algerian team of Ataquat, Boukrif and Kaoula. In the years since then there have only been a few multiple-winning drivers like George Groines of France and Italy’s Francesco Perlini won twice each, while the Czech Republic’s Karel Loprais won six times. However, Russia’s Vladimir Chagin has the record with seven Dakar wins. His last race was in 2011 and he’s since assumed the role of Kamaz Master Team Leader. Now “The Tsar of Dakar” spends his time training and mentoring Russia’s next generation of off-road truck racers. In 2013 Chagin’s protégés took the top three overall spots and #500 Eduard Nikolaev earned his first Dakar Rally victory after starting out on the team as a mechanic.
The Russian team will have a real fight on their hands from #501 Gérard De Rooy of The Netherlands. He’s a second-generation Dakar Rally competitor and winner of the 2012 race. His father, Jan De Rooy won the race in 1987. He won six stages and it looked like he was going to spoil the Kamaz Master Team’s victory party. One mishap after another led to an overall fourth place finish, but he’s back with team-mates Tom Colsoul and Darek Rosewald to race for glory once again.
We’ll be posting updates as the race progresses, and you can also follow along with The Dakar Rally official mobile apps and the following social media channels: