The truck category of the Dakar Rally looks to be set for even more excitement than usual in the 2005 edition of the famed cross-country event. Pre-prologue in The Netherlands: trucks leaves. Photo by Team de Rooy. Kamaz is back...
The truck category of the Dakar Rally looks to be set for even more excitement than usual in the 2005 edition of the famed cross-country event.
Kamaz is back with the top team of Vladimir Tchaguine, Semion Yakoubov and Serguei Savostine, and they also have a new, stronger engine for the 2004 Dakar-winning Kamaz 4911.
The Kamaz-Master team has been dominant in cross-country raids for the past few years, and has claimed an impressive five Dakar titles in the truck category to date. The factory-backed team will again have three entries at the 2005 Dakar.
Tchaguine, personally, will be gunning for a fifth straight Dakar victory in the #515 Kamaz with his experienced crew, but it will be nothing if not a hard fight for them.
Not only will the grueling 9,000 kilometer cross-country rally test the endurance of the drivers and co-drivers to the extremes; but this year the truck category promises to be particularly hard-fought, with 69 total entries.
Iveco, which has had a rather low profile in Dakar in recent years, is back with a vengeance this year. The Italian manufacturer, with the Motorsport Italia team, has entered a pair of Iveco Eurocargo 140E24 WS trucks in the Dakar.
That is made all the more impressive by the team lead drivers, both possessing some rather impressive CVs: Miki Biasion (#517) and Markku Alen (#522), with 36 World Rally Championship wins between them, both longtime Lancia pilots. Biasion is a two-time World Rally Champion, while Alen is one of the highest-regarded rally drivers ever to finish a career without a championship.
The father-and-son team of Jan and Gerard de Rooy is back once again in a pair of Gauloises-sponsored DAF FAV CF75.530 trucks, #521 and #516 respectively.
Often a bridesmaid, but never yet the bride, the de Rooys have been competing in the Dakar since 1981, and have come tantalizingly close to overall truck division victory a number of times, but with only a 1987 win to show for their efforts. Could this be the year for a second overall win?
Plus, the six-time winning Tatra team again has a strong three-truck entry, led by six-time Dakar winner Karel Loprais (#519), and there is a plethora of Mercedes Unimog and MAN entries ready to pounce should the front-runners falter in the thousands of kilometres of North African wilderness they need to cross before reaching Dakar.