Russia's Team Kamaz sets off for 2009-Dakar Rally preparations

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NIZHNY NOVGOROD, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Team Kamaz has sent its trucks to Latin America via France for participation in Dakar-2009, the team's spokesman said on Monday.

The Dakar Argentina Chile 2009 event will be the first time that the world famous rally, founded in 1979, has taken place in South America. The 9,500 km (5,904 miles) race will take place on January 3-17 and start and finish in Buenos Aires.

"Today the trucks and part of the team were sent from Naberezhnye Chelny [in Russia's Volga republic of Tatarstan] to France, where they will undergo a technical inspection in late November. They will be later loaded on a ferry and sent to Latin America," the spokesman for the seven times Dakar champions said.

Russia's Team Kamaz has sent three trucks for the next year's rally, each consisting of a three-member crew, including five times Dakar Rally Champion Vladimir Chagin.

In all, next year's event will involve 230 motorbikes, 30 quads, 188 cars and 82 trucks, from 49 countries.

The Russian team's participation in a major rally event in June was marred by the tragic death of a French racer involving a Kamaz truck - the first in the team's 20-year history of participation in various rally events.

French motorcyclist Philippe Tonin was killed after his KTM bike was hit by a Kamaz truck, piloted by Chagin, on the sixth stage of the 17-day Transoriental Rally between Russia's St. Petersburg and China's Beijing via Kazakhstan.

Although a special commission set up to investigate into the tragic death of Tonin subsequently ruled that Chagin and his crew were not to blame for the incident, the whole team decided to withdraw from the rally out of respect.

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