Everything is ready for the start of the Silk Way Rally

Tomorrow is the official start of the Silk Way Rally 2018 which is said to be the most gruelling and tough editions to date. The route is 3.569 kilometres long and is divided into seven stages. It all starts at the port city of Astrakhan in the Caspian Sea, from where participants will enter the inhospitable Takyr desert. Seven days later and through dangerous steppes, stony plateaus, forests, canyons and ravines; drivers will arrive at the Red Square in Moscow.

This is the ninth edition of the Euroasian rally, which has traditionally been regarded as a sort of preparation for Dakar. The Silk Way Rally is, however, one of the hardest in the world. This years’ edition has the added excitement of not counting with any previous winners amongst its participants, opening up the chance to win to almost anyone. There are, nonetheless some names which are already being labelled as favourites, such as that of 2014 Dakar winner, Nani Roma. The Spaniard will compete with the X-Raid Mini John Cooper outfit together with team-mate Yazeed Al-Rajhi. Another name being put forward is that of Nasser Al-Attiyah from Overdrive Racing.

Traditionally, the Silk Way Rally crossed three countries from China to Russia following the historic trade routes of this precious good. This year, however, the competition has been split into two legs. The first one which is starting tomorrow and runs exclusively in Russian territory; and the second leg which will be in China and is scheduled for Septembre.


The route 

Astrakhan – Astrakhan – Elista – Astrakhan – Astrakhan:   

The first four stages of the Rally consist of two loops of the Takyr desert in the Kalmykia region. Participants will have to go through sand dunes, fast tracks across the Kalmyk steppes, off-track stretches and sandy paths buried in the surrounding vegetation. Good navigation skills, as well as the ability to keep the vehicle undamaged, will be key to success.

Astrakhan – Volgograd:  

The first half of this stage is made up of bumpy and sandy tracks, whereas the second consists of hard and fast roads where drivers will compete in speed.

 Volgograd – Lipetsk:  

This stage starts across winding and sandy steppe roads where navigation is complicated, to say the least. There will also be a speed segment across the Don-Archeda desert, and participants will have to cross the deep Buzuluk river.

Lipetsk – Moscow:  

The final stretch towards Moscow’s Red Square will take drivers through 200 kilometres of fast tracks across rivers and ravines.  

By T.C. | Photo: www.silkwayrally.com

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