Used Dakar Rally tyres see action in Ukrainian service

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Credit: Benediktas Vanagas

BFGoodrich is the official tyre supplier of the Dakar Rally, having won the legendary rally raid eighteen time since 1993. For the 2023 edition, the Michelin-owned American tyre company provided three sets of varying dimensions to meet the demands of the Saudi desert. The top entries like winner Nasser Al-Attiyah‘s Toyota Hilux DKR T1+ used the All-Terrain T/A KDR2+, which came in soft and medium compounds and were sixteen inches wide.

In the weeks following the Rally, fellow Hilux driver Benediktas Vanagas found a new purpose for his Dakar tyres outside of competition: on the wheels of off-road vehicles used by the Ukrainian Army.

He wrote on social media, “Do you know where the used Dakar tyres go? For a second life in Ukraine! Although heavier than normal tyres, they are much more durable than standard off-road tyres. Soldiers appreciate it a lot.”

Vanagas, a member of the Lithuanian National Defence Volunteer Forces, has been one of Ukraine’s biggest supporters from the motorsport world long before Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022. Among his contributions since the war’s escalation are equipment for the Ukrainian military like night-vision gear and generators, along with off-road trucks. In January, he auctioned off the fender from his Dakar Hilux as well as a baseball cap and shirt autographed by Al-Attiyah, with the proceeds going to relief efforts.

On Monday, Vanagas’ sponsor Vostok Europe launched a second line of Ukrainian-themed watches with the goal of raising €70,000 for medical supplies. The watchmaker’s first series of limited-edition timepieces generated €60,000 for a military hospital in Starokostiantyniv in 2022.

Besides the different compounds, the DKR2+ exists in sixteen- and seventeen-inch sizes with the latter being intended for two-wheel-drive vehicles. The sixteen-inch version is used for the Hilux as an AWD truck, with an aspect ratio of 245/80-16. BFGoodrich also supplied the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3, which is available for public use, and the KM3 SSV for those competing in the T3 and T4 categories.

It has been a year since the invasion began, resulting in massive repercussions globally that also impacted the racing community. The 2023 Dakar Rally did not feature longtime T5 powerhouse KAMAZ-master or many Russian competitors save for some who agreed to condemn the conflict like Denis Krotov and his co-driver Konstantin Zhiltsov, both of whom are racing for the World Rally-Raid Championship in T1, and Alexey Kuzmich, who is Yasir Seaidan‘s navigator for the 2023 W2RC season.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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