Truck racers show their mettle off-road

Updated: 2013-11-05 11:28

By Shi Xi (China Daily)

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Truck racers show their mettle off-road

Trucks compete at the Juma River in Laishui county, Hebei province, during the fourth leg of the 2013 Shaanqi Cup China Super Truck Race. Provided to China Daily

Water splashes, dust blows, and heavy wheels bounce over the dirt and rocks along the Juma River in Laishui county, Hebei province. This is the fourth leg of the 2013 Shaanqi Cup China Super Truck Race.Truck racers show their mettle off-road

Zhang Lanxiang is the only female racer this year, the race's 11th annual event. She heard about the competition from friends in 2012 and was eager to participate.

When she first rode on a super truck, she was shocked by the size of the machine, and the loud roar of the engine.

"It's like a mammoth! It's so huge that I had to climb to get into the driver's cabin," Zhang recalls of her first try last year. "The male drivers all looked down on me and joked that I would never make it."

The racing trucks are provided by Shaanxi Automobile Group, one of the largest truck manufacturers in China, usually referred to as Shaanqi.

The 9.9-ton giant truck, which is 6.3 meters long and 3.3 meters high, has a maximum speed of 90 kilometers per hour and can handle a maximum grade of 60 percent. It can "wade" through water as deep as 1.5 meters.

"It's totally different from driving a car. It requires more strength and skill," Zhang says. An amateur car racer, she soon fell in love with the excitement and challenges of truck racing.

This year, more than 40 racers from 10 teams compete with each other to earn the grand 100,000-yuan prize ($16,400). Zhang is the captain of the team sponsored by Auto Observer magazine. "This time, we are aiming for the championship!"

In 2009, the competition switched from a track race to an off-road race, with five legs in different countryside areas across China every year.

"This is the only off-road truck racing in the world. The races in Europe and America are all track races," says Cao Wei, the technical supervisor of the competition. Cao has been following this annual race since it started.

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"During the past five years of off-road racing, our trucks have conquered all kinds of harsh terrain, such as mud land, desert, plateau; the fourth leg of this year's race is set in the natural riverbed."

The circuit at the Juma River, converted from the natural riverbed in tourist site Yesanpo of Laishui county, is a difficult one. Racers have to ride their unwieldy giants through a 1.2-km-long rocky trail, and cross the 1.5-meter-deep river. The course pushes racers and trucks to the limit.

"Our event has been attracting racers from all over the country," says Cao, also a racer in the competition. He graduated from 555 China Racing School, one of the earliest racing schools in China.

"Approximately half of our truck racers used to be truck drivers, and the other half were car racers," Cao says. "Although those who compete in car racing are more professional, they do not have experience with trucks. It's too close to call which group is faster."

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