“Of course, my heart is in the truck”
This is set to be a very different Dakar for Artur Ardavichus, who will be trading his beloved trucks for the SSV class in Saudi Arabia. Due to a withdrawal of government funding for his Astana Motorsports team, the Kazakh driver is unable to take part in the trucks for a ninth time, and will instead join his friend Ilya Rouss in an SSV on the Forestal Team. Artur was supposed to make his Dakar debut in a Nissan back in 2008, but the rally was cancelled at the eleventh hour. He returned three years later in a Kamaz truck, finishing eighth, and then stormed to third place behind Dutch duo Gerard De Rooy and Hans Stacey in 2012. The 48-year-old has raced with four of the major truck manufacturers -Kamaz, Tatra, MAN and Iveco- and grabbed an impressive fourth place on his most recent Dakar participation with the De Rooy team in 2018. For this 2020 edition, he teams up with highly experienced navigator and mechanic Ricardo Adrian Torlaschi, who has competed in both the cars and trucks on the Dakar, most recently guiding fellow Argentine Federico Villagra to two fourth-place finishes (and almost to victory in 2018). The duo could well be ones to watch in this year's highly competitive SSV class.
A.A.: “Of course, my heart is in the truck. I'm more of a truck driver than an SSV driver. But we no longer have any support from the Kazakh government. Astana has changed its name to Nur-Sultan, so now the Astana Motorsports name is no longer necessary to raise its profile. The government has changed its sporting programme and we're no longer central to its interests. This year, my good friend Ilya Rouss is participating in the Dakar and he invited me to join him, so we will go together. There will be two cars from the Forestal Team. I'll try to help him out in the dunes, on the tracks, it will be a kind of assistance. Forestal is a revolutionary new bicycle brand, specialising in downhill, city and electrical bikes. I've known them for more than 10 years, so I hope we have a good time and enjoy a good race. I've never been to Saudi Arabia. The landscape is much the same as Kazakhstan, just the desert is much bigger! Going to a new place is really interesting, but I think the rally is going to be very difficult. It's a big event and a big challenge for everyone”.
- Mark : CAN - AM
- Model : MAVERICK X3
- Performance tuner : Forestal Team
- Assistance : Forestal Team
- Class : T3.P Prototype A-T vehicles
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