|Born||August 21, 1984|
Nikolaev made his Dakar debut in 2006 as mechanic for Kamaz's Sergey Reshetnikov, finishing in 18th overall, before moving across to the crew led by Ilgizar Mardeev in 2007. Along with Aydar Belyaev, the trio finished a creditable second place, three hours down on the winning time set by Hans Stacey.
For the 2009 edition, Nikolaev moved across to join multiple champion Vladimir Chagin and his co-driver Sergey Savostin, finishing second overall (with four stage victories) behind the crew led by another Kamaz driver, Firdaus Kabirov, by a margin of less than four minutes. In 2010, Nikolaev remained alongside Chagin and Savostin, the three dominating the year's competition by taking 9 of a possible 14 stage wins - a Dakar Rally record.
Nikolaev had his first taste of driving duties at the 2010 edition of the Silk Way Rally, which he won.  The Russian proceeded to make his Dakar Rally driving debut in 2011, finishing third behind teammates Chagin and Kabirov, albeit over three hours down on the winning time.
The retirement of Chagin and Kabirov prior to the 2012 event theoretically made Nikolaev the Kamaz team leader, but he was nevertheless disqualified from the event for colliding with a competitor in the car category on the fourth stage.  In 2013, Nikolaev profited from delays for rival and defending champion Gérard de Rooy, and despite failing to win a stage took victory in the overall classification by a margin of 37 minutes from Kamaz teammates Ayrat Mardeev and Andrey Karginov.
Gérard de Rooy