Ayrat Mardeev has won his first Dakar Rally and the 13th for the dominant KAMAZ team in the truck category following a third-place showing in Sunday’s rain-shortened final stage.
KAMAZ locked out the overall podium with Mardeev topping Eduard Nikolaev by 13 minutes, 52 seconds. Coming in third was 2014 Dakar winner Andrey Karginov at 51 minutes off the pace.
Nikolaev may well be wondering if it would have been him on the top step in Buenos Aires if not for a turbo-charger failure on his truck in Stage 7 that cost him more than an hour.
A win in Stage 8 and runner-up in Stage 9 brought him back up to second place overall behind Mardeev, and it appeared he had the momentum behind him again.
But even with another victory in Stage 10, it did next to nothing in bringing him closer because Mardeev finished second that day at a mere 49 seconds back.
That proved critical for Mardeev, who would manage his lead with finishes of ninth, fifth, and third in the remaining stages to take the crown for himself. Nikolaev may have led all truck drivers with six stage wins, but Mardeev’s consistency won out.
As for Stage 13, Hans Stacey pulled off an impressive third consecutive stage win to end his Dakar the same way he started it. Stacey and his Iveco out-hustled the MAN of Marcel Van Vliet by 1 minute, 21 seconds.