Teams participating in the 2021 Dakar Rally must apparently now add helicopter collisions to the list of rally hazards. As if Dakar were not already dangerous enough.
Watch as this Kamaz gets some sweet lift after rolling over a dune at speed, only to clip the skid of a low-flying press helicopter:
The scene unfolded in the 12th and final stage of the rally, along the Yanbu-Jeddah route in Saudi Arabia. The truck you see here is from the KAMAZ-master team, and it was being driven by Anton Shibalov.
Think how fast that Kamaz was going to shrug off a whole chopper like that, never missing a beat. That rig is definitely not the right combination of mass and inertia to mess with. Someone ought to tell that chopper’s pilot to respect anything that big, going that fast.
Despite the tussle with the rotary-wing aircraft, the Russian team’s No. 501 truck went on to place second in the final stage of the event, and another KAMAZ-master truck, No. 507, placed first. That led the team to victory, and marks its 18th overall win in the Dakar Rally.
A record like that is sure to make all the bangs and scuffs worth it for the winners. In fact, the damage to the truck was not in any way serious, and the chopper’s skid seems to have done no damage the truck cab. Though I don’t think the truck’s structural integrity was ever in question.
The following question is more to the point: What happened to the helicopter? In the video, we see the chopper quickly pull away after it clips the truck. And it doesn’t seem to have sustained major damage. The truck gets more coverage in the clip than the aircraft, but we can see that the helicopter pilot learned the lesson and afterwards hangs back a bit, letting the Kamaz surge ahead.
We’re happy that the helicopter was not thrown off balance enough to cause a crash. Things could have ended very badly. But it ended happily — if not for helicopter, then certainly for the truck.