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Before the athletes had time to lick their wounds after the killer race Gold Kagan, a new one arrived – Archeda. It takes place in the northernmost sandy desert of the world – in the Archedinsko-Don sands, located at the mouths of the Don, Medveditsa and Archeda rivers.

Baja Archeda is multifaceted and consists of two-day Russian Cup competitions in the N2, R and N disciplines and a three-day second stage of the Russian Rally Raid Championship in the T5 truck category. 32 crews from 21 cities in Russia and the Republic of Belarus came to conquer Archeda. Over three racing days, the pilots will have to overcome three stages, five special stages and almost 420 kilometers of off-road terrain.

Rally Gold Kagan: final Rally Gold Kagan: day three Gold Kagan: not everyone was able to finish

Archeda is never easy. Last year, more than a third of the crews did not reach the finish line. This is the same story. Even during training, the T5 truck category suffered its first losses – the engine of Alexey Vishnevsky’s MAZ crashed. There was no spare, so it was off. Also, one of the two URALs almost flew off the track of the 15-kilometer training circle – the iron also failed. But in general, the training day was productive and showed that the crews are rolling in and understand everything – it will not be easy and interesting.

28 crews out of 32 on the preliminary lists were allowed to start the competition. The largest number of participants was collected in the N2 buggy category – 10 all-terrain vehicles. There are also a lot of heavyweights in the T5 cargo category this time – the Blue Armada (KAMAZ master) arrived in the Volgograd region with three crews, two trucks each were sent by the teams GAZ Raid Sport, MAZ Sport Auto, Ural Motorsport.

Ekaterina Taranidi Ekaterina Taranidi Ekaterina Taranidi Max Morozov Max Morozov Max Morozov Sergey Orlov

In the raid-sport category, seven cars will fight for the podium, including the Gazelle NN with a new experimental gearbox.

The first high-speed special stage, also known as the prologue, is small – only 20 kilometers. But it still turned out to be difficult. Wooded areas mixed with hummocks, sands, ravines, as well as running sections made both pilots and navigators sweat. The prologue showed that it definitely won’t be easy in the cargo category of the Russian Rally Raid Championship. The best time in the prologue was shown by the KAMAZ-master crew of Bogdan Karimov. He was two seconds ahead of Belarusian Sergei Vyazovich and brought 15 seconds ahead of teammate Dmitry Sotnikov.

Ekaterina Taranidi

“The prologue was a fast sandy track winding along a bumpy sandy surface,” Bogdan Karimov spoke about his impressions of the first day. Sharp 90-degree turns sometimes required sudden decelerations and rapid acceleration from almost zero. The road is wide, but in some places the passage of trucks was narrowed by trees. I especially liked the initial three-kilometer stretch, which was replete with spectacular, to the delight of the assembled fans, jumps in the style of a motocross track.

The GAZ Raid Sport crews of Vladimir Moiseev and Mikhail Shklyaev are in eighth and ninth places, respectively.

Sergey Orlov

But the lags are still insignificant, and the density of results is high, so the fight is expected to be extremely interesting.

“There will be a tough fight among the trucks at this stage, and throughout the championship,” says GAZ Raid Sport team driver Mikhail Shklyaev. There are a lot of cars, the class size is large – 10 cars! But, unfortunately, something happened to the engine of the car of Alexey Vishnevsky from MAZ Sport Auto during training, as a result, the Belarusians are participating in two crews instead of three. Two more were exhibited by the URAL MOTORSPORT team. The prologue track is very interesting. Usually the prologue is a small special stage to set up starting positions for the main race, but today it was a decent one – 20 kilometers. As they say, it completely characterizes the entire competition route: today there was forest, sand, hummocks, running sections and even a ford. The first day was a success, no breakdowns. We carried out some minor maintenance and selected starting numbers. Both the Astrakhan races and Archeda are stages that act as preparation for the “Silk Road”. All athletes prepare, learn new techniques, adjust their machines, try and change settings.

Sergey Orlov

In the raid-sport category, prototypes took the lead. Andrey Rudskoy on the G-Force BARS from St. Petersburg raced through the first high-speed special stage in 17 minutes 40 seconds, finishing in fourth place overall and first in the R category.

Ekaterina Taranidi

“We drove the prologue 20 kilometers, everything was fine, there were no mistakes,” Andrei Rudskoy is clearly satisfied with the result of the prologue. But ahead there was a cargo canal, which greatly breaks up the sandy paths and sand. Because of this, the speed naturally drops greatly. They got it right with the pressure. Of course, the lack of roll-in is felt. But I think that tomorrow it will pass. We came specifically for this.

Ekaterina Taranidi Ekaterina Taranidi

Second place based on the results of the prologue went to Volgograd pilot Alexey Kuznetsov in a Nissan NP-300, and third place went to the Lada Niva Sport crew of Mikhail Mityaev and Egor Okhotnikov. Alexander Semenov and Dmitry Okhotnikov from the GAZ Raid Sport team are still in fifth place in their standings. The gap from Andrei Rudsky is 3 minutes and 51 seconds, and there is every chance of winning back the lost time.

Max Morozov Max Morozov

“The race is sandy,” said Alexander Semenov. The sand is heavy, a very large load on the box and drive. During the prologue there were ravines and a dense forest, it was a bit heavy for the car to heat up. Our competitors are all strong, there are many prototypes that came from the T1 category, but we are trying to catch up with them and fight on equal terms. Tomorrow will show everything. Everything is fine with the car, no problems.

The team was seriously preparing the car and came to Baja Archeda to test the new gearbox and transmission.

Max Morozov

“Cup racing is an ideal opportunity to test the design solutions that are used at the stages of the Russian Rally Raid Championship,” explained the sports director of the GAZ Raid sport team, Vyacheslav Subbotin. Work to improve our cars is ongoing, and, of course, most of it occurs in the off-season. However, before a big race, such as the Silk Way Rally Marathon, we also seriously work on our technique. So, we installed a new gearbox from Foton on the Gazelle NN racing car. We have been cooperating with them for a long time, both on engines and transmissions. Foton makes good boxes and dispensing systems and we need to test these solutions. Engine torque has increased, power has increased, which means speed and reliability should also become higher. At the same time, we are working on a six-speed gearbox in order to apply these solutions specifically to motorsport. There’s no better way to test cars than at the Arched Sand Race. Our crew of Alexander Semenov and Dmitry Okhotnikov tests new units in the transmission during the race. Two of our trucks are also participating in the competition, and their vehicle settings are also being tested. For us, this trip is preparation for the Silk Road 2024. It is necessary to evaluate our strengths and the strengths of our rivals – the world motorsport stars KAMAZ-master and MAZ Sport Auto.

Based on the results of the draw, Saturday’s special stage will be opened by Ural Motorsport team driver Yuri Naiman.

Max Morozov

Athletes will face two special stages, almost 200 kilometers across steppes and sands, and will not be able to cope with difficult 3D roads and confusing navigation! /m

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