Motorsport in Russia

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Selection_566In Soviet times, motor racing did not enjoy a huge amount of public support in Russia, and developed mainly due to the activities of individual enthusiasts. The most well-developed motorsport discipline in the Soviet Union was the rally. Soviet ‘Lada’ teams with their Lada cars appeared for several years in the World Championship (classical) Rally (WRC). By the late 1980s they created a sports team at the Kama Automobile Factory in the city Naberezhnye Chelny.

From the early 1990s onwards, dozens of Russians drivers began to take part in various foreign auto-racing competitions and were able to show satisfactory results at races and rallies.

By the 2000s, the team ‘KAMAZ-Master’ was the strongest team in the rally trucks championship, and competing with it in many cases became virtually impossible. From 1996 to 2011 the team was a seven-time champion of ‘Dakar’, two-time World Cup winner, and winner of the title of ‘Best Russian Racer’ in 2003. KAMAZ Master has made significant progress, thanks to a successful policy to attract sponsors. The first major partner of the team in 2005, became the bank VTB.

In the 2007 – 2008 rally season, we saw the debut of star Russian rally driver E. Novikov. He helped bring the WRC and other rallies back into the spotlight of Russian fans and sponsors. He signed up with Citroen in 2009 for a full season. After a year off, Novikov returned to the World Rally Championship in the 2011 season with M-Sport. Novikov scored a few podium finishes and stage wins, but most importantly, he opened the way for other Russian drivers to take part in European and World Championship Rallies. In 2010, Vitaly Petrov made his Formula 1 debut. Thanks to Novikov and Petrov, Russian motorsport has benefited from a huge popularity boost. Russian and European brands have begun to take interest in sponsorship and marketing through motorsport in Russia.