Kirov. It all started in Kirov.
It all works and will bу working in Kirov. I love rally. Our rally vehicle is Lada Rallies may be won by pure speed.
There is no face-to-face fight in rally. Each competing racer begins after a set interval of one minute.
The driver with the lowest overall time and less penalty for all special stages in an event
is the winner. The crew consists of two people: the driver and the co-driver.
Before the races begin we always trial the route twice. And we take stage notes.
When you have left two, left two, left bad in four hundred. Left three minus into right two short
Right one minus blind, two twenty First time we take the route I word it all out, and he takes notes.
In the second recce I word out the stage notes.
And he can make some changes in them. During the races
each of us basically does what he is supposed to.
Right one short into left two Fifty left one
Driving fast just by eyes is impossible. Eyes give you information post-factum.
If you’ve seen something, then it has already happened. While the stage notes allow you
to see beyond the corner, beyond the slope, the bad turn, or the crest.
The best thing both for the driver and the co-driver is when the co-driver gets the words out on time.
When the driver is not trying to predict what’s next, but gets the information right there.
I mean on time, neither too early nor too late. Basically, you give a command
and it has to be performed immediately. You are partially driving as well, virtually, in a sense.
We are great team-members, our team is small, but very strong.
Our team-members are: myself, my co-driver Andrey Kleshchev, our mechanic Andrey Chuprakov,
and this is our rally vehicle LADA. It has been with us for ten years so far,
and it has given us a lot. I’m thirty-two. And I’ve been in the loop for twenty years.
I played computer games. I studied well. My dad just looked at what I was doing and said:
“Listen, you might wanna try out carting”. That’s it. Life will never be the same.
Carting, ice rally, snowmobiles… And in 2009 I realized I got interested in rally.
I have to try out rally. Rally is my cup of tea. Rally is grasping. Rally is not easy.
Rally is something perplexing when you are on shore. My story starts in late 1980s
when I got interested in automobile racing. The city of Zhukovsk, where I live,
hosted an automobile cross-country rally, and I was very excited about that.
I got interested in automobile racing when I was a school-boy. I started going
around the neighborhood, Moscow region and then to neighboring regions…
I bought my first LADA. And that car never completed a single rally.
It broke down, and that was it. But I liked it so much, even over this short distance. It was so cool.
And I got it – I don’t want anything else, no other races, no other competitions,
or other rally disciplines… And we decided to break into it.
The idea of making a team was quite accidental so to say. Klim was looking for a new co-driver
to take part in a rally abroad. I really got to find him through an ad.
“Going to Lithuania for LADA VFTS rally, good friends inviting, have a spot for a co-driver.
I don’t have one. Please, help.” I was one of those
those to answer the call. To my surprise, I got a lot of feedback.
And Andrey Ruslanovich was the one to suggest to give it a try. I’m so happy about
Andrey Ivanovich coming up. “While Ivanych is busy with important things
I’m packing away the salad.” We hadn’t known each other before that.
Well, I had a feeling and I invited him to join us. He comes from our local-class
Kirov automobile racing I was rallying a little at the local level.
First, it was cross-country rally, then ice rally
at super amateur level. I noticed whose rally vehicle was the neatest
and who talked less. And that was him. I got the concept,
what’s required from my part. It’s the fourth season that we work together
and I see that he likes it, he enjoys creating, doing something that no one else is doing. Guys from big teams are not the ones
you will even say hello to. With all the security guards around them.
And there are guys who spend one night in the garage preparing the car
and win the next morning. And all these people get together there.
They compete in different categories, but they are roughly equal when taking part in one rally.
Mission “Pickles from Ivanych” There’s Solberg round the corner.
We’re gonna come up and give it as a gift. I met Klim quite long ago.
Some cheerful guy just used to always stop by us and give kvas as a present.
We’re just some common guys and we’ll be like that. With a small team we have,
we are comfortable and have great time, we can afford a little more. We are flexible.
And if we get an invitation to take part
in a rally, like we got one last year to Germany,
we jump into the car and we go. The way to and from rally takes a great deal of time.
Our country is big. Two days one way and two days back.
And roughly three and a half days there. I got a pick-up. We attach a trailer
with our rally vehicle – and that’s it. We get into the car, turn on some good book
and turn it off at the border when we arrive. The navigator led us the wrong way,
it says we have to take this road to get to Almhult. This is private property,
we can’t go here. We’ll make a U-turn and go further.
You can rent any car. Imagine a person as infected
by this virus as we are. He loves rally.
And he just pays the team right there and then to take him
to the championship he wants. He flies there. All set up for the races.
Mechanics and vehicles being ready. He comes for the trial, shakedown,
race, and then flies back. There are many people like that.
This is the only possible format for them. From LADA to world-class vehicles
that were rallying in a world championship just yesterday
to be an overall winner. There are bunches
of analysts and scientists dealing with it,
creating solutions that will someday somewhere
enter the open market. WRC is a driver’s world championship
R5 has national championships, and there are like lower levels
for two-wheel drive and small cars. There are national cars.
This one is an example. You can create a vehicle
whatever you want. We compete with Civic, Nissan Sunny,
many Lada Kalinas, Lada 2108 and so on. I don’t know
why I chose Lada Just don’t know.
No one made me do it, no one like ordered. It happens unconsciously.
It’s like being a fan of Real Madrid or being a fan of Manchester United. And you somehow chose Real Madrid.
And here you are. You cheer for them all your life. When I was choosing a vehicle 10 years ago we could start with any.
But I got the feeling I needed a Lada with rear-wheel drive.
The longer we are in this and the more we perform on a Lada,
the more I understand and the more assured I am that I made the right choice at that moment.
I like everything about Lada. The further we get,
the more I understand how cool it is. Fiestas and Peugeot 208 are too common,
even there, as they are international cars. They are all the same.
When we come to Sweden, you know, people come up to us. They are not looking at international vehicles.
They ask: “Are you really Russians?” – Yes, we are. “And you came here?” – Yes “And is that a Lada?” – Yes, it is. “I remember my grandpa Sven used to drive one like that.
Some neighbor had one as well. Did you really like come here?” – We did. That’s awesome. It was so emotional.
Being different is really great. and they’re all eager
to meet those Russians on Lada. And you see Andrey Ruslanovich talking
to all those foreigners in the service park even more that on stage.
When we were in Germany, it felt like we had come
from a different planet. “Have you driven three thousand kilometers to get here?” – We have.
“Are you guys crazy? Where do you live?” – Well, near the Urals. “So you really have come here?!»
We did come, and even won the race. A guy on a Lada who was there and there and there,
is something you won’t forget. These guys drive us crazy.
The organizers invited us for a press-conference and asked to bring the car, washed beforehand.
So we came here, it’s a shopping mall, they opened the gate and we drove in.
Seen that?! 275 teams and only three including our car
are demonstrated here. People stopped performing on Lada
like thirty years ago. Once we get to go somewhere
abroad they start inviting us more and more, especially with Lada.
And that’s the right thing. Who knew we would find ourselves in Stockholm
We were driving from Sweden and stopped by Stockholm. I’ve never been here before. Well, Lada made it happen.
I love what we are creating from Lada that I have, it’s a productive, efficient,
and modern vehicle. It’s not the car
that used to win the USSR Championships in mid 1980s.
Nothing in common. Well, it’s sort of Lada’s body, it’s Lada’s spirit
and some outlines, and a Lada, well not exactly a Lada, but a modern
VAZ 16-valve engine. Ah…and the heater. It works like hell.
So that’s it. All the rest are modern units made specially for automobile racing.
It works like that everywhere. You take the best option on the market,
market for automobile racing, and install it in your vehicle, only then you can win.
I knew they had Lada Classic, and that these guys were pretty fast. But my world turned upside down
when Klim came for some shakedown testing and his ride was
properly prepared and it was really going fast.
When you sit in it you feel like this car is far faster
than an R2 class vehicle. We are constantly improving it.
Bringing it’s performance to perfection. As fail-safety is crucial in rally.
It’s even more important than speed. And you know, we reached
incredible results. This year we’ve had 11 starts, 11 races,
and 11 finishes, and zero retirements. That’s awesome for a rally,
as even R5 cars that cost 250 thousand euro do drop out, break down,
and might have vehicle electronics malfunction so the driver has to retire from the race.
And we got 100% of starts and finishes. An engineer vehicle must be serviced by an engineer.
Our car is like that, just a little more creative.
All spare parts are original I think this is the fastest Lada
in all Post-Soviet space. The car that never breaks down.
This year it hasn’t failed us. This season fail-safety
was our key advantage. Andrey Chuprakov, our leading mechanic,
contributes to the overall success. It’s only his gifted hands
that made this car so unique. Rally in Estonia 2018,
and that’s not the finish of a nice race we are used to. Firstly, we got a flat tire
when we were on power stage. It was really bad.
And there was something wrong with the fuel. No pressure. We thought the pump was bad,
or the relay, or the fuse panel… As it turned out we were out of petrol.
Petrol. Ivanych came and we poured some in, and the baby started.
That’s the story. Everyone has a story like that. I was like, what, petrol, are you kidding me.
We are serious guys, you tell me. We know this car in every detail,
we thought it all trough, and we brought this car to a high level of efficiency.
We’ve been working on it for 10 years.
It used to be an ordinary Lada 2105 with a bit modified engine. As the team and its tasks were evolving,
the vehicle grew more powerful
and reliable. By the end of these ten years
this vehicle has become a super real race car. Every time after service
or after fueling I try to pet the car a little and say
“Don’t let me down” Everyone knows that I like my Escort MK2.
This is my way. But there’s one more thing that’s crazier
than an Irish on an Escort, and that’s Russians with their Lada. Just watch these guys.
See what they can do on a Lada. It’s like a Russian MK2. You never know who
will join the dark side. After Andrey Ruslanovich
and I had had our first rally in Lithuania,
and then in Estonia, we understood how hard it was,
but very interesting at the same time. Each following season is a lot of hard work.
It’s not easy at all. They put us on our heels. In Russia I know, that if we take part in a cup rally,
we usually win, at least in top three. When we go there…
First time in Estonia, no mistakes, everything was great,
and we were the seventh. That first time in Estonia, I guess, fifth or sixth special stage and we flipped.
This was one of my biggest mistakes as a co-driver, as we came
for Saaremaa rally 2014, the greatest rally in Estonia
that gathers 130 and more teams at the start point, and I word out the line of the stage notes
too late on the second day. I mean, I was reading
it when we practically got there. There was a bad turn
with a U-turn after, so we just missed it.
And that’s why we flipped. Seeing the team off to the stage
and waiting till they come back to the service park
is the most difficult thing. And when they are back, there is a very limited period of time
to put the car in operational readiness having identified any weaknesses or breakdowns
and get it back on track. For me fail-safety
of the car is very important though the team comes first
and foremost. The car drives
into a closed box and we start to service it
really fast. We need to check all we can.
If there is a breakdown we fix it first. Then we continue inspection.
I would prefer to have the car back into the box without any breakages,
so that I wouldn’t have to fix it. Having just thirty minutes
to fix it, I would be worried about the time and the responsibility.
That’s why being a mechanic during rally is very, very complicated.
I didn’t quite enjoy being the one, to tell the truth.
I always strive for more. In 2016 we took part
in Estonian Rally Championship. Well, many Russians do that.
Also the guys I already mentioned, the ones, who come by helicopter,
rent a vehicle and drive it. Guys from garages don’t do that.
So for the 2016 season we were the third in this class out of 40 or 50 teams.
It was awesome. We were so excited. The award ceremony was so great,
like anyone would be lucky to experience it at least once
in a lifetime. Estonian Rally Championship
is an unusual rally. The national level gathers
so many people. It’s so weird and nice
to be here. We went there in 2017 as well. And we won.
We are the champions of Estonia 2017. Let’s do it again. Sure. 2018 It was also so difficult. But we won.
Two-time champions of Estonia. We won twice. Let’s do something else, I want more.
Estonian rally got new leads, new teams, and we realized that the question
was still open. The year 2019 also brought us victory,
while there were many participants as well. And now Andrey Ruslanovich, myself,
and this car are three-time champs of Estonia. But all those titles,
cups, awards don’t mean a thing.
Only emotions are important.
A Finnish friend of mine, an experienced rally driver,
once asked me why I was doing it all. I didn’t expect such question
So I was like, erm, I don’t know. “You know, in Finland
it’s very easy. If you are doing it, then, when you grow old, you will be
the one to tell the stories, not to listen to them.” Two days, two podiums. It was awesome,
everything’s fine. The rally was fantastic. We’ll come back.
There’s a short story, I never published it anywhere or told anyone,
as it is sort of on the brink. Finals of Estonian
Championship 2017, Saaremaa rally 2017. The most difficult race
in my life and in our career as a team with Andrey Ruslanovich.
It was pouring rain for a week. It was pouring rain during the race.
The road was all potholes and mud. Flat tires and damaged car suspensions, yeah.
One or two broken cars in each turn. Each stage could result in three flat tires.
Usually you take one or zero spare wheels when in Saaremaa,
but that time… Only thanks to our heroic mechanics,
who saved us by quickly bringing another spare wheel
from the service park. It’s against the rules, but in that race
no one paid attention to the rules, I guess.
The main thing was to survive. We thought we could be the second
at most in this Estonian Championship, it was the final race.
However, our little tank was going forward and by the middle of the race or two thirds of the route
we found ourselves pretty close to winning,
and could run for first place in Estonian Rally Championship.
We start the last pivotal stage. It’s pitch-dark.
I turn on the headlamp and the additional headlamp, and I see a low battery warning.
I’m like… uh oh! Right on time. I turn it off to decrease the load.
And we keep driving at full capacity, like it was the last chance of life, I mean it.
But without additional headlight as it could ruin the battery
and I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. We finish the stage,
count the points, and we win. After that we had to drive another 50 kilometers
We won, but the race finishes 50 kilometers from here. I turn off all the light,
all of it. It’s dark. I don’t know how fast I was going, maybe 150.
Many spectators coming back from the island. I was driving and thinking that I needed
to get as close to the finish point as I could. The system voltage was dropping and dropping
until it finally reached zero. It was twenty kilometers to the finish point and the car stopped.
We are Estonian champs, but over there. Here I see my competitors passing by,
first, second, third… What? Is it gonna end up here?
We were stopping everyone. Klim asked me to stop the cars passing.
I was waving to all this traffic trying to stop someone. Guys, who has got battery chargers or a battery…anything.
We were lucky to have this one guy stop who used to race – Evgeny Dmitriev –
we were so grateful. We asked him for a battery.
Guys, I’ll take it, I do need it more than you do. I have the wrench.
His car was new with all the plastic covers. I broke the plastic, took out the battery
and told him not to stop the engine, otherwise he would’t get out of there.
He was like, what the heck, us being so dirty,
taking his battery and installing it on our car. We jump into the ride,
people pushing us, I turn on the third gear the car goes frrr and starts.
Somehow we got to the finish podium. I drive on it
and there is Ari Vatanen 1984 World Rally Champion,
two-time absolute winner of Paris-Dakar rally – presenting the award. A man of importance. He’s presenting, I drive in,
everyone switching off the engines, as he’s speaking, people listening. I’m not switching off mine, it’s working
He’s like switch it off, I’m like nope. Switch it off. Nope. Switch it off, can’t hear. No, it won’t start again.
Ok, he got it, as a rally driver he got it. We were given the award. We won.
And we need to drive another 300 meters to the finish service park and we are the champions.
While still on the podium the car engine stops. He’s looking at me, people are looking.
And I go, well, we’re gonna push it there. We were literally pushing the car by hands the last 50 or 100 meters.
This story is sort of on the brink. As it’s not allowed
to use someone’s help, but… A little bit against the rules,
but we achieved the result. This is what the rally world is like,
where you compete and do all this stuff, that’s awesome. In most of the cases
it’s like one big family. Everyone is helpful. Tools, liquids,
manpower, anything… and that’s what you remember.
You don’t feel like a competitor.
This story is mostly about support. For me, the main support I have
is my family. I’m so happy
things are working out this way for me. It’s hard to look at yourself from a different angle.
I’m happy to have my wife and my daughters. They are very supportive and understanding.
Though they knew what I was like. We are grateful to our families
who are very tolerant about our hobbies, that take a lot of time
and are not always safe. Thank you for sharing our views
and supporting us. Well, it’s Saturday
go tell the family where we are. It’s Saturday, we are shooting,
and they are in the countryside. I can’t say we have sponsors.
Sponsor is a commercial word. I have friends
who like this idea. They are Dvizhenie Motor Oils.
And I don’t have to post twenty two stories daily by sponsorship contract
with their logos. They know that I do it well, and that I love it.
And I know that I can rely on them. It’s a win-win.
And things like that. And step by step we build such relations.
Latvian Pirelli representatives, who sell tires, also help. They see we are crazy guys on a Lada
but somehow things work out for us. And they supply tires to us at such a discount,
I can’t even tell other guys, as I know they won’t
get such a price. It’s Lada that makes
it all happen for us, drawing attention.
And we are just make the most of it. I like to create and engineer stuff.
Making the perfect Lada from just Lada. Lada that almost fly-ride,
I want to create an ideal. Best I can afford.
At the end of this season I made a decision, quite unexpectedly,
we are going to design a new vehicle. Everyone’s asking… a BMW maybe,
but no, I’m not a gangster to ride a BMW. We are gonna create a new Lada.
It’s gonna be Lada the Five, white color, like this one. This is the base. And we decided
to put rallying on hold for a while and focus on a new vehicle
that will represent an ideal Lada as I see it.
We are designing a completely new vehicle. Trying something
no one has ever tried to do with Lada before. We’ll keep the roof
and the front two doors, and the headlights.
The technical key to success is fail-safety and weight.
Fail-safety is fine, but this car is too heavy within its class.
No one can tell us if it’s right or wrong. We used to have the Volvo rear axle,
now it’s gonna come from a BMW. This suspension is a special sport rally solution.
I bought the BMW trunk at an auto wrecker,
in good condition. We are going to integrate this BMW rear underbody
into Lada bodywork, and it’s quite complicated. Just making a two millimeter mistake
will result in bad car geometry and you won’t help it.
We are working on it now. It’s uncommon.
Moreover, it’s been 10 days now, we invited Zhenya Sorokin,
he’s our friend, he’s from Rostov-on-Don.
He has huge experience. He’s an auto body mechanic,
and a car painter. He is also a rally driver.
He also has a rally Lada. He is even more passionate about it
than we are. We cut off the trunk
and welded on a new one from BMW, then it will be joined
and braced with some staple. Then we’ll install a safety cage
and we’ll work a lot with the front suspension. The front suspension will be original.
And the brakes. There is some base we’ll be working with,
all the rest is improvisation. This vehicle will be better
better that the previous one. More interesting and technologically advanced.
We’ve started all this for this purpose. Not to win at some rally.
. It’s a huge process. Just designing the vehicle brings me great satisfaction.
I love to drive, to design. I like it. There are some papers
and books in my office that I read,
some books in English on engineering, how to design suspension, right angles,
I just love it. It’s my passion. We don’t buy solutions,
we don’t buy a car to win the race.
We create it ourselves. In order to win
we need a good team. Firstly, our driver is really fast.
And he is constantly growing professionally
trying to absorb all possible information.
I think the wishes of a small group of people inside the car
and outside the car aligned. And when they do align
we achieve such results. Many good people come his way.
Maksim, Andrey the mechanic. They do a lot of good stuff.
I think Klim is also just lucky. Lucky with people.
We are very like-minded people, soulmates. Klim is persistent and well deserves victory.
Assessing it all with clear thinking from an ordinary person’s perspective: it’s expensive, time consuming,
don’t know what we are doing and what for we are doing it. But we love it.
And I think getting old at rally would be fun.