Kamaz. The Beast of Russia on his lap. The fall of a rally legend

One liter of diesel fuel for one kilometer. This is how much the beast from Tatarstan burns, the Kamaz 43509 rally truck. It takes only 14 seconds to reach 100 km / h. It will accelerate to a maximum speed of 183 km / h in less than a minute. With an experienced crew, it will easily overtake the competition from around the world and travel even more than 800 km on one refueling.

The Dakar has been second to none in the world’s toughest rally. Over the last two decades, Kamaz has managed to win only four times (in 2001 the Czechs won against Tatra 815, in 2007 the Belgian-Dutch MAN TGA team and in 2012 and 2016 the Russians had to recognize the superiority of the Dutchman Gerard de Rooy in Iveco) PowerStar). In the Dakar 2021 and 2022 rallies, a real knockout for world rivals: Kamazy took all the places on the podium. In Dakar 2023, this may not happen anymore.

Kamaz censored. Lada Niva has survived

This year’s presentation of the Dakar 2023 route turned out to be quite meaningful. The beautiful film documenting the previous rally lacked scenes with Russian trucks. However, the censorship was not vigilant enough. Several shots with… Lada Niva have been preserved. It is not difficult to guess that after the Russian aggression against Ukraine began, the question of the participation of the Russian team was brought into question. Not only Western but also Russian media are writing about the possible exclusion of Kamaz.

Vladimir Chagin (the legendary champion in the truck class – won the Dakar 7 times), the head of the factory team Kamaz-master admitted in an interview (published on the official website of the team) about the changes in plans in the current situation. When asked what the team would do if it did not go to Dakar in 2023, he bitterly stated that sport had now become part of politics. After the withdrawal of foreign sponsors (the list of partners was long last year – including BorgWarner, Goodyear, Total Energies, Red Bull, Webasto, Varta) not only the Kamaz-master team has to fight for survival. The truck manufacturer himself is also trying to stay afloat.

Mercedes tells the Russians – “will give swidania”

It is not easy for the Russians. They lost their most important partner, i.e. Mercedes (the company announced the disposal of all its shares in Kamaz and the completion of all investments, thanks to which they could develop the latest generation of trucks from the K5 family (the cabin comes from Mercedes) and the K4, which earned the most money. in January, it was assumed that the company would produce 15-16 thousand copies. With the current sanctions, the result will be 3-5 thousand (some are already missing, so the plans to build less than 350 K4 and 77 K5 units in the second quarter are not optimistic) Maintaining truck exports and achieving any profit will also be a success (Sergei Kogogin, Kamaz’s boss, mentions zero profit).

The availability of components is already so bad that it is difficult to count on trucks that meet the Euro-V standard. Hence the decisions to offer trucks that still remember the times of the USSR. Since April 2022, Kamaz has been offering Russian customers the obsolete K3 models with Euro-2 engines, which usually went to customers in Africa and Latin America. It is significant that even in Russia, hardly anyone wanted such old equipment (in 2021, a total of 44,000 trucks were produced, of which only 1.5 thousand such old models).

Russia is seeking help from China. But can China help?

It is not surprising that the Russians are looking for help from, among others, in China. But China also has its limitations. The latest Kamaz Compass small truck is a relative of the Chinese N-series JAC with the American Cummins diesel produced in China. And it will be more and more difficult to find one, so the Rostec industrial concern is already looking for another engine for Russian car manufacturers. Other components will probably come from China (or Iran), without which it will be difficult to produce the latest K5 trucks (Kamaz declares that from January 2023 small-series production of cars with so-called alternative components will start). This is not the end.

The rally team is also not idle. Kamaz-masters is working together with Gazprom on trucks with hybrid and hydrogen drives. After losing many sponsors, however, it remains to look for savings and … sell off the property. Vladimir Chagin admits that “life forced us to do it”. Therefore, more rally trucks will be available for sale. It would seem that this is nothing new, as historical models have been offered for many years. Apparently, however, more needs to be sold than planned now. It is extremely painful not only for a sports champion.

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