Sunday, June 23, 2024

Ural Automotive Plant creates rally raid team

Factory backing is a major boon for any motorsport operation, especially if the manufacturer is fielding the team themselves. Ural Automotive Plant (UralAZ) is the latest company to throw their hat into the factory racing team ring, announcing Wednesday the creation of UralMotorSport.

The team will make their début at the Silk Way Rally, which begins on 5 July and runs through 15 July. Yury Nayman will serve as driver alongside navigator Dmitry Vikhrenko and mechanic Alexey Popov. Nayman mainly competes in Russia’s ice racing championship, while Vikhrenko is a multi-time rally raid champion in his home country of Belarus, earning the title of Master of Sport.

Their #311 truck uses a cab from an IVECO TurboTech with Ural NEXT badging. IVECO, an Italian truck manufacturer and 2023 winner of the Dakar Rally, had a partnership with UralAZ that lasted three decades before ending in 2022 amid the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As such, IVECO’s branding is replaced with the company’s heavy duty truck line Ural NEXT. The entry is one of eleven in the T5 category.

“We have serious plans to show our best efforts, to really test our strength,” said the team. “Our goal is to gain experience, and at the same time, to successfully cover the race distance, test the equipment, strengthen the team, and draw conclusions for the future. We thank the organisers for the opportunity to participate and hope for the support of our fellow participants.”

While the Silk Way Rally will be UralAZ’s first rally, the manufacturer has already enjoyed success in trial-based events. In November 2022, the team’s new Ural-43206 won the King of the Hill challenge, months after UralAZ provided support to KAMAZ-master’s Silk Way winning-effort.

KAMAZ, a perennial truck powerhouse in international rallies, and UralAZ are among four T5 teams entered in the 2023 Silk Way Rally. GAZ is another Russian truck manufacturer taking part while MAZ-SPORTauto will represent Belarus.

Founded in 1941 and unrelated to the sidecar motorcycle manufacturer, Ural Automotive Plant long specialised in producing trucks for the Soviet military before expanding to civilian markets in the 1980s.