Dakar 2021 Q&A: Dakar winner Sergei Kariakin


If we need to find an athlete with a real champion character, without a doubt he will be the Dakar winner Sergei Kariakin. There are no questions that Snag Racing team will overcome some formidable challanges to win one of the fiercest and the most treacherous rally raids of all.

The first Dakar in Saudi Arabia was successful for Sergei Kariakin and his co-driver Anton Vlasiuk. It was the second time when the driver was racing in the Side by Side category. Leaving the first podium step for Ricky Brabec, the second place was prepared for Russians. Meanwhile, the Yekaterinburg native knows how to hold the Dakar winner statue. 2017 Dakar in South America was golden for S. Kariakin in quad class.

The 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally will take place in Saudi Arabia for the second time in the race history and Sergei Kariakin will attack Dakar the 8th time in his career, 7,900 km route in his customary attacking mode.

“Definitely, it left a good impression. Of course, Saudi Arabia is a really beautiful country. In general, we showed a good result. People told us that it would be boring, that the location and climate would not change. But in fact, we have seen almost everything from densely growing plants to long-dry rivers, mountains and plateaus. Any kind of a relief can be found there”, about the first Dakar in Saudi Arabia to Racinglifenews.com said S. Kariakin.

What are the main differences between South America and Saudi Arabia?

Certainly, the main difference is people. Honestly, I was totally in awe of the people in Saudi Arabia, but I saw how friendly, tactful and well-mannered they are. In South America it wasn’t like this. For example, when you stop at a gas station, 10 thousand people run up to you, start poking at you, pulling your hand that you would take a picture with them.

411 Kariakin Sergei (rus), Vlasiuk Anton (rus), BRP, Snag Racing Team, SSV, action during Stage 10 of the Dakar 2020 between Haradh and Shubaytah, 608 km – SS 534 km, in Saudi Arabia, on January 15, 2020 – Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

But in Saudi Arabia, if you are standing at a gas station, a person comes up and asks: “I’m sorry, can I take a picture with you?” You answer to them: “I will finish the work after a minute and then I will take picture with you.” They do not see any problems to wait. They opened up that the first time in their life have seen a foreigner and Dakar is interesting to them. There is certainly complete order with culture, but this is what I saw.

You had a big crash in 2018, when you broke your both arms. In 2019 again you had a big accident. How do you recover after these accidents?

Indeed, 2018 and 2019 were not the easiest years in terms of damage. Before that, I thought that in any condition I could finish the race and reach the finish line. In 2019 it was possible to finish, but in 2018 with two broken arms it was impossible. Before that, I only broke my collarbone in childhood.

When I arrived at the camp, they said: “Where else do you have pins and fractures?” I asked: “What do you mean?” They said all biomechanical motorcycle racers with replaced joints and bones. Well, when I said that I had no fractures and they were very surprised to hear that.

“In 2019 it was possible to finish, but in 2018 with two broken arms it was impossible”, S. KARIAKIN.

Thank God, there was a doctor from Germany, a girl who was able to help me and to fix mine fracture. My radius was crumpled and broken. She straightened and managed to do it without a surgery. Psychological recovery was not so easy, but I am used to live in this way. I have never stopped at my goal until I realize that it is not worth my money or I am no longer interested in it. But Dakar is certainly interesting to me, so I am not going to stop.

Now is worldwide pandemic and preparation for rally I guess was different too. How did you prepare for Dakar 2021?

Regarding preparation for Dakar 2021, this year is certainly a huge challenge for us. Throughout the year, we lived without sponsorship. We were able to commercialize a team prepared commercial cars and sell bespoke sports cars. It helped us to develop the team and, of course, the main thing is to keep the team. Without a team it would be very difficult.

The team is the main asset which still allows us to move forward. In general, the preparation went well, we built a new car which I am pleased. We also learned a lot in terms of design. We bought new machines which will allow us to advance much further in the quality of manufacture and in production technologies.

Once you said: “You have to be patient and know how to wait”. So, what are you still waiting? One more Dakar champion title?

Yes, you need to be able to wait. Simply put, it really is such a deep understanding of the word. Because sometimes the Dakar rally is just about the strategy. And until you can choose the moment when to “shoot” and before that race calmly maintaining your pace. This is certainly a great test. Yes, I have certain successes, but there is always something to strive for and what to learn.

“I go only for a victory”, S. Kariakin.

What am I waiting for?  I don’t expect anything, I just get pleasure from the Dakar. Developing  is a part of my life and I really like it. I do what I love. Waiting for Dakar 2021 is actually very difficult for us. I have already found some part of the money and now I am fighting for the remaining budget. If I go, I will only count on winning. This is my approach to business, I go only for a victory and do everything that I would win.


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