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Silk Way Rally 2019: Everything you should know about the race

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22   //    29 Jul 2019, 17:23 IST

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Silk Way Rally: Thrill Of The Race 

The smell of burning rubber and gasoline, the roar of engines revving, and the wind from cars, trucks, and bikes as they speed past. Ahhhh, take it all in!

If your bucket list has you visiting varying racing locations, be sure to jot this one down. Even if it’s not a bucket list item, you should take into consideration how exhilarating it would be to visit the Silk Way Rally. Get your blood racing and adrenaline pumping taking in various motorsports. 

2019 marked a turning point for the Silk Way Rally, and I am sure that each year will continue to get better and better, so start making your plans now to get it in on the action for 2020.  

Brief History of Silk Way Rally  

Silk Way Rally is still a fairly new rally raid for off-road type racing. The rallies began in 2009 and went from Kazan, Russia to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Since then, the route has been adjusted each year. The rally lasts for several days and operates in multiple stages as they travel across various off-road paths, often through rough terrain. Some of the navigation of the course even takes place on public roads. 

The Silk Way Rally tends to evolve and adapt every year. Not every year has taken 10 days and 9,600 km like the most recent. They classify each year as an edition because the edition every year could be something vastly different than prior years. They take pride in the overall setup and the courses. 

Silk Way Rally 2019

The 2019 rally is the 10th anniversary of the rally, despite a couple of years in the mix that were canceled. The rally began on July 6th in Irkutsk. From there, they forge through Siberia and parts of Eastern Russia into the Mongolian steppes and then wind into China through the Gobi Desert. The race finished on July 16th. 

This year, they introduced a motorcycle category into the mix, with the Silk Way Rally being the longest motorcycle competition route to work towards the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. This year, the rally also was honored to become a candidate rally for FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. 

The organizers hand-select areas with perfect rally terrain that would be a pure challenge for competitors. Interestingly, the span of this rally also pulled competitors through 5 different climate areas. 

2019 Silk Way Rally Highlights

In addition to the 4 factory teams that participated for motorcycles, drivers also included 3 women: Laia Sanz of KTM, Anastasia Nifontova of Husqvarna, and Gabriela Novotna of Huqvarna. Laia holds many world trial championship titles and Anastasia made history in January when she became the first woman to finish the Dakar Rally in the original class. 

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Many racers came upon very challenging moments in stage 2 of the rally. Multiple drivers were forced to drop out for various troubles, including engine failure and technical malfunctions. 2018’s truck winner was one of those who had to drop out of the race. Al Attiyah held a winning streak and managed to hold his lead throughout most of the rally in the car class. 

The car class was reorganized and shuffled multiple times throughout the rally. The order varied every day almost in a chaotic mode. In the end, the Toyota Gazoo team took the lead. This team missed 3 kilometers on a restart, but managed to beat the teams by a total of 40 minutes and 33 seconds. 

The winners of the 2019 Silk Way Rally included Red Bull KTM Factory’s Sam Sunderland for bikes, Toyota Gazoo Racing Overdrive’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel for cars, and Kamaz-Master’s Anton Shibalov for trucks. These winners were all new names on the leaderboards. 

Special Moments of 2019 Silk Way Rally 

The Rally started off with a bang in Irkutsk, Russia. An opening ceremony was held in Irkutsk the day before the beginning stages of the rally began. The first 2 stages took place in Russia with the next 5 stages working through parts of Mongolia. The final 3 stages wound through parts of China, including the Gobi desert dunes, with the finishing ceremony taking place in Dunhuang, China. 

TV broadcasters for more than 75 TV channels were on the scene, allowing the various stages of the rally to be aired across nearly 200 countries. The rally has one of the largest reaches and has become one of the most popular cross-country rallies in recent years. 2019 was a year to be remembered! 

It was an awe-inspiring moment when 24 motorcycle riders started their engines for the first year that motorcycle riders have been accepted into the rally. Sam Sunderland of Red Bull KTM Factory took championship lead, just shortly ahead of Luciano Benavides and Jose Ignacio Cornejo. Same made it known he was grateful for the chance to participate in new and exciting challenge ride. 

The US CRV team, made up of Aviv Kadshai, Izhar Armony, and Maoz Wilder pulled into 6th place the 9th stage, giving them 7th place overall. This gave the US team the greatest stats yet through the years, putting up a good fight and making it into the top 10! The US UTV team also pulled solid results in the rally. 

Unique Information About the Rally

The Silk way Rally is unique in that it does not have a set track or course. The path changes from year to year to keep the race fun and exciting. 

The Rally logo contains an image of a white tiger. The image was chosen because of the vast amount of land covered in China and Russia and the tiger is unique to both countries. It is meant to be an inspiration to competitors to stay safe but to strive to achieve throughout the rally. 

Join us in 2020 for a bigger, better Silk Way Rally! Hope to see you there!

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