The 11th edition of the SILK WAY RALLY will get underway in less than one month. Setting off from OMSK (RUSSIA), the second town of the Urals, on 1 July, the race will feature 10 varied and technical stages. Crossing SIBERIA before traversing MONGOLIA from West to East, the event passes through the famous GOBI DESERT before reaching ULAANBAATAR on 11 July.
A total of 5250 km, of which more than 2850 are against the clock, offering the perfect mix of technical difficulty, variety and scenic beauty. From the Altai Mountains to the capital of Mongolia via the Gobi Desert and the endless Mongolian steppes, the 2021 edition of the SILK WAY RALLY will be quite simply exceptional.
‘WHITE TIGERS IN THE STEPS OF GENGHIS KHAN…’
Two years after SAM SUNDERLAND (KTM) in the bikes, NASSER-AL ATTIYAH (Toyota) in the cars and ANTON SHIBALOV (Kamaz) in the trucks took victory, who will be the new white tigers to go down in the SILK WAY RALLY history books at the end of this incredible journey in the land of Genghis Khan?
Bikes: five factory teams on the start line!
For its second edition with a bike category, the SILK WAY RALLY 2021 has once again attracted the major factory teams on what is one of the highlights of the FIM CROSS-COUNTRY RALLIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. This second round will benefit from a 1.5 coefficient thanks to its status as a marathon event with over six days of racing.
The titleholder, the British rider SAM SUNDERLAND, Dakar winner in 2017, will defend the colours of RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING alongside his Austrian teammate MATTHIAS WALKNER.
Their sister team ROCKSTAR HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING will enter the Argentinian LUCIANO BENAVIDES and their latest recruit, the American SKYLER HOWES, one of the revelations of the last Dakar.
Another rider to make a splash in Saudi Arabia with his fourth place, the Australian DANIEL SANDERS will have the honour of flying the flag for GASGAS FACTORY RACING.
Over at the MONSTER YAMAHA RALLYE TEAM, the Frenchman ADRIEN VAN BEVEREN will be accompanied by another recent revelation, the Botswanan ROSS BRANCH and ex-Supercross Champion, the American ANDREW SHORT.
The HERO MOTORSPORTS team will be pinning their hopes on an eclectic trio of Portuguese rider JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ, the Argentinian FRANCO CAIMI and the young German SEBASTIAN BÜHLER.
The quad category is also back on this 11th SILK WAY RALLY and promises us a splendid duel between the ever young, five times world champion and ex-Dakar winner, the Pole RAFAL SONIC and the Russian ALEXANDER MAKSIMOV, both riding Yamaha Raptor 700s.
Cars: who will succeed Al-Attiyah?
After NASSER AL-ATTIYAH’s impressive performance in 2019, this 11th edition of the SILK WAY RALLY will be looking for a worthy successor to the Qatari driver.
YAZEED AL RAHJI, his Saudi Arabian teammate at OVERDRIVE RACING is one likely candidate. But you can’t discount the MSK and VRT MINIs of the Russians DENIS KROTOV et VLADIMIR VASILYEV. The challenge could also come from the FORD F150 EVOs of the Kazakh ANDREY CHEREDNIKOV and the Czech MIROSLAV ZAPLETAL. Another candidate for the top 5, Frenchman JÉROME PÉLICHET and his OPTIMUS MD buggy, always strong over such a long distance.
SSV : impressive numbers!
In just a few years the SSV category has grown rapidly in popularity. With over 25 of these lightweight vehicles entered on the SILK WAY RALLY 2021 in the T3 and T4 categories it is going to be difficult to make any prognostics.
In the T3 category, reserved for prototypes, watch out for the rapid Russian driver PAVEL LEBEDEV from the MSK RALLY TEAM. The French PH SPORT team have entered two ZEPHYR for LIONEL BAUD and JEAN-LUC PISSON-CECCALDI, while the XTREME PLUS team are counting on the Spaniard PENA CAMPO and the Italian GASPARI. There will also be a strong challenge from the two 100% female crews. ANASTASIA NIFONTOVA, the Russian ex-motorcycle champion has teamed up with EKATERINA ZHADANOVA aboard a Can-Am Maverick, as has MARIA OPARINA and LIUDMILLA PETENKO. In total there will be no less than 8 women on the start line of the SILK WAY RALLY in the car class.
In the T4 category, reserved for production SSVs modified for all terrain rallies, there’s a few familiar faces, including the Dutchman KEES KOOLEN and the Italian EUGENIO AMOS, both driving Can-Ams entered by SOUTH RACING, while XTREME PLUS (Polaris) will be represented by the Japanese driver UMEDA and the Italian CINOTTO. Also in the mix are the American AUSTIN JONES and his MONSTER ENERGY Can-AM and the Frenchman JEAN-PASCAL BESSON. It promises to be a fierce battle among the SSVs over the entire 10 stages of the SILK WAY RALLY 2021!
Trucks: a ten-round bout for the heavyweights!
With no less than seven crews entered, the KAMAZ-MASTER team must once again be considered as favourites at the start of the 11th edition of the SILK WAY RALLY. And it will no doubt be an epic battle between the title holder ANTON SHIBALOV and his teammates ANDREI KARGINOV, EDUARD NIKOLAEV, DMITRY SOTNIKOV and AIRAT MARDEEV, all previous winners of the event. In the KAMAZ MASTER TEAM only BOGDAN KARIMOV and SERGEY KUPRIYANOV haven’t yet won the rally. Trying to keep them off the podium will be the three Belarus MAZ-SPORTAUTO trucks led by SIARRHEI VIAZOVICH and ALIAKSEI VISHNEUSKI.
In addition to the three trucks entered by GAZ RAID SPORT for SKLYAEV, LAGUTA and KHLEBOV, everybody will also be keeping a close eye on the Dutch contingent, out in force on the SILK WAY RALLY 2021. Aboard his mighty Renault, Dutchman MAARTEN VAN DEN BRINK (MAMMOET RALLYE SPORT) will be looking to get up among the front runners, as will his son MITCHELL, in his VOLVO. Objective Top 5 also for their compatriot PASCAL DE BAAR in his DAF, entered by the BOUCOU team. With such a quality field of 20 or so heavyweights, a place in the final top 10 could be considered an exploit!
All categories combined, almost 100 competitors will be setting out from OMSK on 1 July with, behind the favourites, a large number of amateurs come to test themselves on the SILK WAY RALLY 2021. For them just one objective: reach the finish line of this exceptional adventure, ten days later in ULAANBAATAR.