Kamaz and Volkswagen battle on WRC Finland’s iconic Ouninpohja stage
At the wheel of the Polo was Jari-Matti Latvala: just like his car, a three-time Rally Finland winner. Close behind him in the Kamaz was Russia’s Ayrat Mardeev, who won the Dakar truck category in 2015 and claimed a podium finish on two further occasions. He also took a truck win in the Silk Way Rally from Moscow to China last month. So a 10,200kg truck versus a one-tonne car, with a 16.2-litre diesel engine doing battle with a 1.6-litre turbo petrol.
“I was surprised how far the truck jumps,” he said afterwards. “It’s really quite something; I got goose bumps.”
“This really is a huge, massive machine,” added Mardeev. “And when you sit behind the wheel of such a powerful truck, it’s an incomparable feeling: you feel the full power of the truck as soon as you start the engine, while all the vibration is transferred to your hands and your body.”
On the roads of the Dakar, launching the Kamaz through the air is part of a normal day’s work.
“In rally raids this happens all the time: during the day we lose count of how many times we jump and fly,” he explained. “But this place is one of the most legendary in the whole championship. Maybe not even so much for the jump itself, but more because of its location and its importance for the championship. So for Jari-Matti and me such activity it’s the meaning of our lives. We can’t live without it. You could call it an adrenaline addiction.”