Niva will return to the Dakar rally after 35 years – Rossiyskaya Gazeta

The classic Lada Niva will again take part in the Dakar rally, in which it has not competed since 1987.

The newly formed Racing Lada team will ride on the Russian SUV in the most prestigious rally-marathon in the world in 2022, and AvtoVAZ has nothing to do with it – this is a private initiative of two Swiss citizens, Mario Yakober and Sladan Milich. On the “Niva” they will perform in the Dakar Classic category, which was created in 2021 – cars manufactured before 2000 are admitted to it.

Especially for the competition, Yakober and Milich bought a three-door “Niva” VAZ-2121 1984, and they found it already in Novosibirsk.

There, the SUV is now being converted into a professional rally car – it is reported that the car was completely disassembled, the body was restored, and the chassis was strengthened in accordance with the specifications of the very first Nivs that participated in the Paris-Dakar race. The engine will remain the original; after the assembly is completed, the car will be sent to Switzerland, where the athletes will test and fine-tune it.

“Niva” with varying success participated in the overall standings of the “Dakar” in 1979-1987, several Soviet SUVs were driven by the Lada Poch team, which was financed by Jacques Posch, the French distributor of AvtoVAZ.

The best result “Niva” achieved in the 1981 race – the third place in the overall standings. From year to year, Posh modernized the Niva-based race cars – if in 1979 they had standard engines, by the mid-1980s they had already received sports motors with a capacity of 240-290 hp.

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