Everything about the Dakar Rally is extreme – especially in the truck category. Temperatures reach 40ºC in the Arabian desert and the terrain ranges from rocky, uneven surfaces to soft, power-sappping desert sand that would defeat all but the hardiest vehicles and the bravest drivers. Yet 342 teams still send drivers out onto the starting line in Jeddah, from which they aim to cover a total distance of 7,500km, racing ten-ton trucks at speeds of up to 140km/h in one of the world’s most demanding motorsport events. It is little surprise that over a hundred teams this year didn’t make it to the finish line in Kiddia.
Airat Mardeev, a driver with the KAMAZ-Master team understands the importance of the right choice of tyre: “Tyres are the most important transmitter of the power to the ground. But in places like Saudi Arabia there are extreme temperature fluctuations, which in turn influence the behavior of the ground. Its density changes several times during the same day, yet we cannot use several types of tyres for each surface. We have to choose one, and we have to choose well.”
The tyres used were Goodyear Offroad ORD (375/90 R22.5). With a high load index (5 tons per tyre) they enable the trucks to drive reliably at maximum speed with a speed index of 90 km/h. The pressure within the tyre is managed according to the terrain: pressure is kept as low as 0.8 bar on sand or loose rock, but is increased up to 7 bar for higher speeds on harder ground. Crews are trained to change tyres, and expect to perform a pit stop in around 9 minutes, but this only happens if the tyre suffers serious damage – and can of course make the difference between winning and losing.
Dmitry Sotnikov, one of Airat’s team mates, explained how the tyres performed: “We didn't have to complain about tyres this year. The first part of the road was very rocky so everyone had wheel changes, but in our team each had only one tyre change in two weeks. On the second part of the track, which was grittier, the tyres performed excellently”.
The relationship between KAMAZ-Master and Goodyear is one that is likely to continue. Dmitry adds: “Dakar is a very serious test for any tyre. I think that after this race, we will have a joint discussion with Goodyear on the all the specific aspects of this Dakar and, perhaps improve the tyres together for the future.”
Competing in the Dakar rally is very different to the everyday business of managing commercial truck fleets. Yet, the success of the KAMAZ-Master team with Offroad ORD tyres demonstrates the quality and durability that can be expected from Goodyear tyres of all kinds. Whether using KMAX, FUELMAX, OMNITRAC or other types, fleet managers can be assured of the best performance, efficiency and longevity.