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Verva Street Racing: Carlos Sainz and Peugeot 2008 DKR premiere in Warsaw. | 21.08.2014


Rallyraid: The new Schlesser customer racer - 4x4 Mercedes instead of buggy. | 21.08.2014


Rally dos Sertões: Top brands and great beasts in bikes, quads and UTVs. | 21.08.2014


Baja Poland: "We have prepared an extra attractions for fans in this year". | 21.08.2014


Asia Cross Country PHOTOS: Impressions Asian Rally Thailand-Cambodia (71). | 19.08.2014


Asia Cross Country: Outlander PHEV completes Rally for second straight year. | 19.08.2014


Baja Poland: Baja Poland Ambassador Krzysztof Holowczyc - "I love this rally". | 18.08.2014













































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4x4 Report: Has Sergei Khalzev managed to create the world's ultimate 4x4?.









By Robb Pritchard It seems the way that extreme off-road machines evolve to suit their environments follows the principles of Darwinism. The Trophy Trucks of America, insanely powerful and with massive suspension travel are perfect for the high speed jumps of the SCORE series whereas the UK trial scene for example, is the domain of nimble Land Rover based vehicles with large electric winches.

But from the primordial ooze of the Russian swamps the alpha beasts that roam the endless bogs are the Frogs, the legendary independent-legged, chain-driven buggies that for a long time absolutely baffled the Neanderthals who with their flint tools thought that portal axles were the absolute pinnacle of off-road design.

In Russia, where the terrain for these vehicles is so tough and varied, the Frogs are already old technology, consigned to the back of a shed on the outskirts of St Petersburg...

They have been superseded, a new species has emerged from the Russian mud and it is so new that scientists have yet to name it. It was simply called 'Homemade' on the Ladoga Trophy entry list as though it was a jumper knitted by an old lady and it’s so extreme that Ladoga, an event that normal teams would need to spend months on end preparing for, was just its first test-drive!

Its nickname is ‘Beaver’ because of its similarities to the animal that dwells in similar environments and even parked next to the other Proto machinery on the Ladoga start line it stood out as something very different. The cab is very narrow as the co-driver sits behind the driver fighter-jet style and the angular carbon fibre and Kevlar body panels make it look like a futuristic fork-lift truck, or a piece of farm machinery mated with something from Terminator 3.

Magazines often favour budget conscious self-builds, but the 'Beaver' is unashamedly an example of what can be created without the limitations of budget restrictions and engineering limitations. Compared to other vehicle it's off-roading science-fiction. It's body panels are carbon fibre and to save a few kilogrammes the Hi-lift jack is made of pure titanium. For what this Proto cost to build, you could buy several supercars and still have change left over for a decent trail vehicle!

For the past year and a half only rumours about the Beaver have been heard and at its unveiling at the Ladoga Trophy it was as much of a mystery and object of reverence to the Russian off-roaders as it was to the Europeans that made it out to this world-famous event.

Its creator is Sergei Khalzev of Honduras Motorsport and his body-builder muscles bulge under his tight T-shirt as he smooths out stickers on the front. "I am from marathonrally.com," I said as an introduction. "I like this website" he says with a Hollywood smile. "For you I will tell you what you want to know!"

Not being the most technically minded person on the start line I suggested that he started talking me through it with the more familiar components, and so the first thing he showed me was the engine. The 3 litre KZ Land Cruiser block is positioned just behind the cab with a high pressure fuel pump to produce the maximum amount of torque.

"Diesel is more efficient so we can save weight by carrying less fuel for the stages," he said. Saving weight is one of the fundamental concepts of this vehicle. Even with its huge 39' Bogger tyres it still only weighs an incredible 1500kg. To put that into perspective, that's not much more than an old Fiat Panda!

The gearbox and transfer box are also Toyota but with adapter plates and a spline shaft made by Honduras Motorsport. Drive to the wheels is moderated by sensors that ensure a perfectly smooth start so that the jerky movements of the tyres, which can cut through the sensitive surface of a bog, can be eliminated. Like I said, no expense spared.

The original Frog design was undoubtedly genius but the two separate hydraulic steering systems needed to turn the unconnected front wheels (one ram on one side would push a wheel out while the other pulled) proved to be too weak for some of the unbelievably extreme routes that constitute the Russian off-road championship. The solution was to fabricate a bespoke double wishbone set-up attached to the space-frame chassis with pivoting mounts.

The front diff is made up of Volvo 303 parts in a self-made casing and their own difflocking system. The ends of the driveshafts are fitted with Toyota CV joints and lead into specially designed portals that do away with the traditional heavy cogs and use short chains instead.

So, unlike its famous predecessor only the Beaver's rear wheels are chain driven, but that otherwise astounding fact seems somehow lost in all the other stunning details that this beast is made up of. Suspension is provided by specially designed Donnere shocks, the cost of which would probably cover the entire build of some other vehicles parked near by, but ‘best money can buy’ describes many things on this vehicle.

Sergei spoke with a smile, but one noticeably bereft of any self-satisfied smugness and described how the space-frame chassis was designed using a specialist computer program and was constructed with specially commissioned seamless, thin-walled tubing in the Honduras workshop using a 13 tonne press. The upper body panels are carbon fibre and the lower ones under the water line are carbon-Kevlar... and then he said something that caught me out and made me think that my Russian was failing me. I was sure he’d just said that it floats.

"There are two yacht bilge pumps," he said "They pump out the water that gets in through the winch cable aperture and through the gaps in any damaged panels. And at the back," he said pointing to a propeller mounted about where the diff would be if there was a back axle.

"There is a water canon that pushes us forwards at 5km an hour." Then he drew my attention to the flat nose on the front and the small hydraulic rams attached from it to the cab. It wasn’t, as I thought, some ingenious device designed to lift the front wheels out of the morass if it was stuck in a bog, but actually a rake to stop the waves destabilising it when it's floating. Incredible.

"This is why my co-driver sits behind me. Think about a small boat, how do the two guys sit? Not side by side, but like this. It’s to do with the complicated principles of displacement and why we even cut the tyres to think about saving weight, like the Hi-lift jack, some large components like shafts, bolts and rings are made of titanium."

It wasn’t the other people from other magazines wanting interviews or photos that ended our conversation, but the call to the start podium. Once I’d stayed to see the whole 200 car field pass under the giant Ladoga balloon I prized myself into the back of the very kind Michael Lastoshkin’s Land Rover and drove to the first stage where I stood expectantly in the bog, shuffling along every now and again when I started to sink too deeply.

Eventual winner Kari Sihvonen eased through in his nice Land Rover and the anti-thesis of the Beaver, the huge 3 ton Laplander, blasted through like a distressed hippopotamus - but there was no Khalzev. I guessed that he’d been so blindingly quick I’d missed him, but as I trudged back to the start I saw a very sad sight.

Just 50 meters into the 1200km event, wedged between two trees, it’s front wheels pointing in different directions, sat the stranded Beaver. "I will never again use ANY Russian metal in my creations" he growled, showing me a sheared track rod end. It was a simple thing but because it had been specially machined in-house there was no way to get a spare.

It wasn't the end though. Despite getting a maximum penalty for the first stage and having to spend the whole event driving carefully to avoid hitting the wheels again he still managed to finish second, a position that any other team would forever consider an amazing achievement.

It won't be seen anywhere in Europe and only a very few hardy off-roaders will ever venture out to do Ladoga and get to see it in the flesh, but thanks to Sergei being a fan of marathonrally.com, when you see it on the official video you won't be watching in utter astonishment and incomprehension!

2011/08/24 | 13:37 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/ROBB PRITCHARD












Verva Street Racing VIDEO: Official trailer for the unique Warsaw sport-event | 21.08.2014 20:41 | NEW




Verva Street Racing: Carlos Sainz and Peugeot 2008 DKR premiere in Warsaw. | 21.08.2014 20:25 | NEW




Rallyraid: The new Schlesser customer racer - 4x4 Mercedes instead of buggy. | 21.08.2014 18:32 | NEW




Rally dos Sertões: Top brands and great beasts in bikes, quads and UTVs. | 21.08.2014 18:01 | NEW




Carpathian Buggy Challenge: First Buggy-Challenge in Romanian mountains | 21.08.2014 17:33 | NEW




TORC STC 2014: Crandon welcomes Popcorn Sutton´s Sportsman Challenge | 21.08.2014 16:57 | NEW




TORC STC 2014: Fannin Motorsports suffers first ever DNF at RD8 in Crandon | 21.08.2014 16:20 | NEW




Baja Poland: "We have prepared an extra attractions for fans in this year". | 21.08.2014 15:51 | NEW




Donaldson CC: Sullwald tighten grip on SA´s Special Vehicle Class title chase | 19.08.2014 19:55 | NEW




TORC STC: Off-Road Syndicate takes Second in Crandon Off-Road Challenge | 19.08.2014 19:21 | NEW




Dakar Rally VIDEO: Historic - Top Gear´s Jeremy Clarkson riding Citroen ZX RR | 19.08.2014 18:32 | NEW




Asia Cross Country PHOTOS: Impressions Asian Rally Thailand-Cambodia (71). | 19.08.2014 17:47 | NEW




Asia Cross Country: Outlander PHEV completes Rally for second straight year. | 19.08.2014 15:51 | NEW




Baja Poland: Baja Poland Ambassador Krzysztof Holowczyc - "I love this rally". | 18.08.2014 17:17 | NEW




Dakar Rally 2015 VIDEO: El Martillo Racing Dodge Durango at the Dakar 2014 | 18.08.2014 16:32 | NEW




Dakar Rally 2015: El Martillo Racing Dodge Durango Mexico dunes test trip | 18.08.2014 16:23 | NEW




Donaldson CC: Horns breathe new life into Production Vehicle Championship. | 18.08.2014 15:29 | NEW




Hungarian Baja PHOTOS: Impressions by MCH Photo / HB / Offroadsport (32) | 18.08.2014 14:32 | NEW




Hungarian Baja VIDEO: The Baja with Nasser Al Attiyah on Saturday by CinCin | 18.08.2014 13:56 |




Hungarian Baja VIDEO: Nice impressions Hungarian Baja by Ábrahámhegy TV | 18.08.2014 13:44 |




Hungarian Baja VIDEO: Short impressions of water-crossing SS04 on Saturday | 18.08.2014 13:41 |




Hungarian Baja RESULTS: Final Overall Results Hungarian Baja 2014 BIKES | 18.08.2014 13:13 |




Hungarian Baja RESULTS: Final Overall Results Hungarian Baja 2014 CARS | 18.08.2014 13:00 |




Hungarian Baja: X-raid driver Vladimir Vasilyev consolidates World Cup lead. | 18.08.2014 12:42 |




Hungarian Baja: Fortin - "A terrific result for Al Attiyah and Overdrive Racing". | 18.08.2014 12:24 |




Hungarian Baja: Nasser Al Attiyah overall winner after dramatic fight Saturday. | 18.08.2014 12:00 |




Hungarian Baja PHOTOS: Impressions Friday by Pawel Roslon and Teams (39). | 16.08.2014 17:22 |




Hungarian Baja VIDEO: Impressions and Interview Toyota´s Nasser Al Attiyah | 16.08.2014 16:54 |




Hungarian Baja: Mini´s Terranova leading in front of Al Attiyah and Holowczyc. | 16.08.2014 16:22 |




Hungarian Baja: Ruoso, Zanotti and Maré Hungary first winners in the bikes. | 16.08.2014 16:00 |




Dakar Rally 2015: Great Wall to copy Local Motors Rally Fighter for the Dakar?. | 14.08.2014 21:30 |




Rally dos Sertões: More than 100 car and truck competitors in Brazilian rally. | 14.08.2014 19:40 |




Hungarian Baja VIDEO: Nice impressions of Hungarian Baja 2013 by Rallyheart | 14.08.2014 18:39 |




Hungarian Baja: Lónyai with HRX-Ford after burnt BMW, Fazekas teamed up. | 14.08.2014 17:18 |




SPECIAL: Schwarz and AGM-Jimco X6 SCORE Trophy Truck at Deutschland Rally | 14.08.2014 16:46 |




TORC LB 2014: Stingle wins Round 8 - and wins Limited Buggy Challenge | 14.08.2014 16:27 |




TORC STC 2014: Marquardt continues Podium Streak at RD8 Summer Crandon | 14.08.2014 15:39 |




TORC STC 2014: Super Stock Truck Championship will be decided at Big House | 14.08.2014 15:29 |




Baja Poland: Legendary Dakar truck - Polish Star 266 live at the Baja Poland. | 13.08.2014 18:51 |




TORC 2014 VIDEO: Round 11 and 12 live-report from Sturgis - 2 hours report | 13.08.2014 17:54 |




















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