« Welcome to Astrakhan, rally-raid capital… » that’s how Race Director Vladimir Chagin greeted the competitors entered on the 2018 SILK WAY RALLY. And it is from here, in the heart of the Volga Delta, on the shores of the Caspian Sea that the race is about to write the 8th chapter in its history. Between Astrakhan and Moscow; 7 stages of nearly 3500 kilometres, of which two thirds will be raced against the clock. On the programme from now until the start on Saturday, two days of technical and administrative scrutineering at the grandiose site of Astrakhan’s State Opera and Theatre.
Scrutineering, operating instructions
Coming from the four corners of the world, the first competitors and their assistance crews have been checking in since the beginning of the afternoon to the administrative scrutineering counter (licences, vehicle registrations, driving licences etc.), while the race cars and trucks undergo a series of tests and checks on their safety equipment in accordance with the regulations imposed by the FIA. From competitors and assistance medical forms, through to the technical tests of the vehicles, via the various administrative requirements, the ritual seems immutable before tackling one of the most demanding races in the world…
On the SILK WAY RALLY, as on all the other major international rallies, the number one priority is safety. Which is why each race vehicle is equipped with an Iritrack system. This satellite geo-localisation device allows each vehicle to be followed in real time and automatically informs the Race Direction of any incident. Same thing for the assistance, organisers and press vehicles, following the race by road, who are equipped with the Tripy system, a ‘black box’ that is both a GPS and a digital road book.
Shakedown to… the break of day
So as to allow the competitors a last run and make any final set up changes, the organisers of the SILK WAY RALLY have laid on a ‘shakedown’ track just thirty or so kilometres from Astrakhan. Running in a straight line for about 7 kms, over sandy terrain alongside the Volga, the front runners in the car and truck categories took full advantage of this warm up, featuring some spectacular terrain. First to go were the trucks of Team Kamaz-Master, the Toyota Hilux Overdrive of Nasser Al-Attiyah and the Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi of Harry Hunt, followed this afternoon by the John Cooper Works Minis of Nani Roma and Yazeed Al Rahji… At the finish, in the village of Rassvet (day break in Russian) no major problems to report.
Start podium this Friday a 20.00 (GMT +4)
As the first day of scrutineering draws to an end at the Astrakhan State Opera and Theatre, with two thirds of the competitors given the OK to start, the parc ferme is steadily filling up. All have now had the chance to see the impressive start podium, situated between two majestic fountains. It is here, in this incredible backdrop that the competitors will come together on Friday at 20.00 (18.00 CET) for the start podium and ceremony for the much awaited 8th edition of the SILK WAY RALLY.