Competitors put on a show for the Russian crowds as the 2019 event revs up

With new categories and fresh terrain the explore, the 2019 Silk Way Rally promises to be an exceptional race and it’s already off to the best possible start thanks to a spectacular podium presentation in the Siberian capital of Irkutsk. The Russian crowds came out in force to cheer on the brave offroaders who will now tackle a marathon 5,000km route. Here is all you need to know:

– This ninth edition of the Silk Way Rally is the first to allow two-wheel competitors to participate. Among the first to sign up for the 10-stage mix of fast-paced and technical riding were the Red Bull KTM Factory Team. The Austrian team have won the last 18 Dakar Rally bike races and now they want to taste success at the Silk Way.

– The Silk Way Rally is the second stop of this season’s 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies Championship. This adds an extra incentive for KTM bikers Sam Sunderland (GBR), Luciano Benavides (ARG) and Laia Sanz (ESP) to push hard for those podium places.

– 2017 Dakar Rally bike champion Sam Sunderland said: “It looks like the Silk Way Rally will be a good test for us as it’s long and we travel through different terrains. We start in the mountains on hard pack in Russia, through the open plains of Mongolia and then finish in the dunes of China. It looks like it’s going to be a tough old race and really long.”

– Also taking part in the first bike race at the Silk Way Rally will be Husqvarna rider Anastasiya Nifontova (RUS). After completing the Dakar earlier this year in the Original by Motul class, Nifontova is ready for her next extreme challenge.

– She commented: “My only worry before the race is rain. We know the roads in Russia and a motorbike in slippery mud is like a cow on ice. I hope we get lucky with the weather!”

– Russian biker Nifontova was given a great reception by rally fans gathered together in Irkutsk’s Kirov Square. Some of the loudest cheers of the night were also given to the truck crews of Team Kamaz Master.

– Leading Kamaz’s charge for an eighth Silk Way truck win is reigning champ Andrey Karginov (RUS). Karginov will be supported on his mission by fellow Kamaz drivers Ayrat Mardeev (RUS), Anton Shibalov (RUS) and Sergey Kupriyanov (RUS).

– Karginov said: “Our trucks were driven here from Naberezhnye Chelny, almost 4,500 kilometres away. It was a big distance to bring the trucks, but I think it will help us to have our vehicles nicely warmed up.”

– Wherever Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) goes in the world, he’s adored and the story has been no different in Siberia. Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) were applauded on and off the start podium in Irkutsk. The Dakar winning duo are hoping to steer their Toyota Hilux through Russia, Mongolia and China before claiming another car category win in Dunhuang on July 16.

– Al-Attiyah commented: “This is a very important race for us, it’s one that we really want to win. This is my first time in Irkutsk and for a couple of days before the rally we’ve been able to enjoy the place. We’ve been out to Lake Baikal, which is one of the most amazing places to see.”

– Sunday’s opening stage takes the Silk Way convoy 250km from Irkutsk to the shoreline of Lake Baikal as the adventure really gets going. Expect to see a fast start from those chasing glory at the 2019 Silk Way Rally.

2019 Silk Way Rally: Schedule

– July 7 – Stage 1 – Irkutsk to Baykalsk
– July 8 – Stage 2 – Baykalsk to Ulan Ude
– July 9 – Stage 3 – Ulan Ude to Ulaanbaatar
– July 10 – Stage 4 – Ulaanbaatar to Ulaanbaatar
– July 11 – Stage 5 – Ulaanbaatar to Mandalgovi
– July 12 – Stage 6 – Mandalgovi to Dalanzadgad
– July 13 – Stage 7 – Dalanzadgad to Bayinbaolige
– July 14 – Stage 8 – Bayinbaolige to Alashan
– July 15 – Stage 9 – Alashan to Jiayuguan
– July 16 – Stage 10 – Jiayuguan to Dunhuang

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