Kamaz’s Nikolaev snatches Dakar lead

Russia Nikolaev Eduard jumps with a truck at the 2013 Dakar Rally (AFP Photo / Franck Fife)

Russia Nikolaev Eduard jumps with a truck at the 2013 Dakar Rally (AFP Photo / Franck Fife)

Top Kamaz driver Eduard Nikolaev has taken the overall lead in the truck category after Stage 9 of the Dakar Rally in South America.

­Nikolaev was only sixth on the stage between the Argentinean cities of San Miguel de Tucuman and Cordoba, but a breakdown for his main rival, Gerard de Rooy, propelled the Russian to the top.

The Dutchman’s Iveco truck stopped soon after the start due to the turbine failure and steering gear problems.  

Meanwhile, the stage victory was claimed by Ales Loprais, who represents Czech Republic behind the wheel of a Tatra.

“It was a very interesting stage, with a winding course not unlike those you can find in WRC,”
Nikolaev told Dakar.com. “It was quite hard on the brakes. We had to tackle very fast parts and very slow ones. When all’s said and done, we had a good stage.”

“We went at our pace, even though we’d seen De Rooy stopped next to the course,” he added.

Nikolaev now leads the overall standing, with second placed Czech Tatra driver Martin Kolomy 17 minutes and 56 seconds behind.

The third spot in the standing is occupied by another Kamaz of Yrat Mardeev, with over 33 minutes separating him from the leader.

This year’s Dakar Rally consists of 14 stages, with the finish in Santiago de Chile on January 19.