SWR17 Reconnaissances: On the road to Xi’An
Just two months away from the start, preparations for the 2017 Silk Way Rally are going full steam ahead. While at the different organisational centres, in Paris, Moscow and Beijing, the logistical process is entering its final phase, out in the field the reconnaissance team started their final run through between Moscow and Xi’An back in mid-April. An international team of rally-raid experts, they are currently going through the 9800 or so kilometres and perfecting the road book for the 7th edition of the Silk Way Rally.
After a first phase of work on satellite maps and three weeks of pre-running, last November, to validate previously unknown areas, the team made up of three Toyota Hilux, a Kamaz service and ten specialists are finalizing the road-book.
After the Kazakh steppes, the team of recos are now attacking the main dish: China, where more than half of the event will take place.
Luc Alphand: “An amazing route!”
Consultant and ambassador for the Silk Way Rally, Luc Alphand plays a particularly active role within the reconnaissance team, employing all his expertise and the experience gained as a top driver, to create a route that is as enjoyable and varied as possible. “Rally-raid in general and the Silk Way Rally in particular are a huge road trip”, explained the French champion. “It is a human adventure before being a sporting competition.
During the reconnaissance, the beauty of the scenery we cross plays an important role. While keeping the non-competitive liaison sections to a minimum, we try and create specials that are as varied as possible, both in terms of navigation and terrain. Our goal is to get the perfect balance between challenging terrain and driver enjoyment but also intense navigation, which, to my mind, is an important part of the discipline, particularly as far as the Silk way Rally is concerned.”
Another aspect that the organisers also pay great attention to is safety. “Everything is done to make sure that the race route is as safe as possible”, continues ‘Lucho’. “If we have the slightest doubt concerning a road book note, we don’t hesitate to turn back to have another look.”
With several brand new stages, the 2017 Silk Way Rally is already looking like being a vintage year. “Even more so than last year, this 7th edition of the Silk Way Rally will fulfil the dreams of true fans of Rally-Raid”, concludes Luc Alphand. “The huge dunes of the Gobi Desert, with the famous Dunhuang or Alashan Youqi stages, and the last specials leading to Xi’An will be decisive and will maintain the suspense all the way to the end…”