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    MOSCOW, PARIS, January 1, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent/. Russia's KAMAZ-Master team from Naberezhniye Chelny (Volga Federal District) has entered three vehicles for the 26th annual rally Telefonica-Dakar, which kicks off in France on the first day of the New Year, Semyon Yakubov, head of the KAMAZ-Master team, told a news conference on Monday.

    Russia is represented by three KAMAZ vehicles, which will be driven by pilots Vladimir Chagin, Firdaus Kabirov and Ilgizar Mardeyev. The Russian trucks will be taking part in the race for the 13th time. Earlier, KAMAZ crews won the rally three times, and several times finished among prize-winners.

    According to Yakubov, the team comprises 18 people. Among them are technicians, who will follow the racing trucks in jeeps. Russian hopefuls for victory in the super-marathon, previously known as Paris-Dakar, will be accompanied by breakdown vans with spare parts.

    Russian fans will no doubt focus their attention on the performance of the crew led by Vladimir Chagin, who won last year's marathon.

    In Yakubov's view, in order to win in the forthcoming race, the Russians will have to exert no small effort. Entries in the truck class have almost doubled. The main rivals of KAMAZ - well-known auto concerns Tatra and DAF - have achieved considerable weight reductions in their vehicles. As for the racing KAMAZ trucks, they have not even passed road tests because of delays in the delivery of engines of the Yaroslavl motor works.

    The world's most known rally, which will take place from January 1 to 18, will be contested by 68 trucks, about 150 passenger cars and something like 200 motorcycles. The route of over 11,000 kilometres will run through the territories of France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina-Faso, and Senegal.

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