What is it? The Silk Way rally is a renowned annual rally-raid type of event. Overshadowed by a similar but more widespread event the Dakar Rally, Silk Way tests the mettle of many extreme machines and courageous drivers. Longer than the prestigious Dakar Rally, just finishing the Silk Way is a serious task. First raced in 2009, from Kazan, Russia to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Silk Way quickly gained popularity for its tricky course. From 2009-11 the rally was a part of ASO’s Dakar Series. The 2016 edition took place on different route, which is the Moscow-Astana-Beijing route. The 2017 rally will take place on the same route and will be flagged off on 7th July. It’ll end on 22nd of July in Xi’an, China.
So what’s so special about it? Well everything. The competitors are subjected to everything from dense forests, grasslands to steppes and much more. The deserts of Northern China, known by the name “dunes of no return” are tricky and need high levels of skill. Silk Way’s director Vladimir Chagin, nicknamed “Tsar of Dakar” and seven times winner of truck rally says- “It’s an extreme sport stretched out over time, over two weeks, not a jump or flight that lasts minutes or seconds.” Last year Silk Way managed to attract competitors from over 40 countries and one the main reason was its entry fee. At 5000 pounds it was less than half of Dakar’s.
“The stages so far haven’t been quite as tricky as Dakar but once we cross over China, they’ll get more difficult.” says 2016 participant Harry Hunt. “You are in the middle of nothing, you’re tired but all you’ve to do is keep pushing.” said another Australian driver. Breakdowns also add to the existing set of obstacles. If a vehicle breaks down, its nearly impossible to back into the race. This route not only sets participants a great challenge but also makes them discover the diversity of Eurasian natural landscapes. Not to forget the adventurous view and the extraordinary scenery and cultures along the ancient Silk Road.
Over the years, Silk Way rally also cemented China’ and Russia’s mutual relations. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia is happy about the status and popularity that this race has gained. Silk Way is versatile enough for novices but still keeps professional drivers involved, and as stated it isn’t as gruesome as the Dakar.
Silk Way Rally 2016