"Being on the Dakar is like the cherry on the cake!"
Maria Oparina has spent many months gearing up for Dakar 2022, but she didn't expect to actually be competing in the T3 class. Uzbekistan's Anvar Ergashev was supposed to be driving a Can-Am Maverick X3 for Maria's team, but unfortunately broke his hand at the Hail Rally in December. After scrambling to find a replacement, the Russian decided to bite the bullet and get behind the steering wheel herself. She will therefore be making an unexpected Dakar debut alongside experienced Belarusian co-driver Andrei Rudnitski. Maria may be new to the world's biggest rally, but she has done plenty of racing over the years. Her father was a pilot, and she believes his job inspired her passion for technical vehicles and motorsport. She began taking part in amateur car competitions in the 2000s, before being drawn to the new lightweight vehicles class around eight years ago. She took part in the Russia series of the Can-Am Trophy in 2014 and never looked back, going on to win the Silk Way Rally and the Russian championship, and even setting up her own team. Now, with Andrei's help, she is hoping to enjoy a successful maiden outing on the Dakar, and maybe even get involved in the fight for the top spots.
M.O.: “It's a big surprise for me, because I was only coming to Dakar as the team manager. But two weeks ago, our driver Anvar Ergashev broke his hand at Hail Rally, and unfortunately it was impossible for him to do anything with this damage. Everything was ready: the car, truck, mechanics, media… so it would have been very sad to lose our place! That's why I'm driving on the Dakar, and it's my first Dakar. As you know, for any cross-country rally driver, being on the Dakar is like the cherry on the cake! So I'm really very nervous. I have quite a lot of experience. I've won the Silk Way Rally twice, and the Russian championship, all in the T3 category. And I've taken part in different stages of the Bajas World Cup. But Dakar is Dakar! First and foremost, I would just like to get to the finish, because I know it will be very, very difficult for me and my team. But I have a highly experienced co-driver, who has already done the Dakar eight times. So I think maybe -maybe!- we can be on the podium, but first we just want to finish, because it's a very competitive category with some very experienced guys.”
TEAM MARIA OPARINA
CAN-AM MAVERICK X3
TEAM MARIA OPARINA
- Marque : CAN-AM
- Modèle : MAVERICK X3
- Préparateur : Team Maria Oparina
- Assistance : Team Maria Oparina
- Classe : P_T3_NO
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