97 Participants ready to start off at the Silk Way Rally
Official Start of the Silk Way Rally 2019 will gather participants from 36 countries setting a new record for the race. Preliminary list of the 9th edition reached 97 participants including quads and motorcycle, who will go the Silk Way Rally for the first time in history.
The most numerous category of the Rally is the All terrain – CARS represented by 54 vehicles. This year the event can boast of really strong participants. The list is headed by last year’s winner Yazeed Al Rajhi. The main rival of whom will be the Saudi Arabian pilot Nasser Al Attiyah. The Qatari star looks forward to taking revenge after coming off second in 2018. Both of them will feature Toyota Hilux prototypes this year.
Al Rajhi’s team will go with a Silk Way Rally newcomer Erik van Loon in it.French pilot Mathieu Serradori driving a rear wheel Buggy was one of the leaders of Silk Way Rally 2018 showing high scores at different stages but unfortunately left behind for some mechanical problems. This year the French racer will be out to fight again for the White Tiger.
Another star of the Rally Bryce Menzies will show up at the Start Ceremony after a two year break. The American has chosen a Peugeot 3008 buggy as a weapon. List of 12 vehicles from Russia will be headed once again by Andrei Rudskoy, former FIA world cup T2 champion from Saint-Petersburg, whom we’ll see behind the wheel of his G-Force BARS, that can easily compete with its main rivals in speed.
Three Russian champions – Sergei Uspensky, Evgenii Sukhovenko and Alexey Ignatov – will try their skills againced experienced international racers. The latter two will pilot Russian vehicles GAZel NEXT.
Russian fans put much hope in the Т3 category with its most popular racer Sergey Karyakin from Ekaterinburg and the only female pilot Tatyana Sycheva from Saint-Petersburg. And of course the «lucky charm» of the rally – Sergey Shalygin, the Far East pilot who will try his skills for the ninth time. The Tynda racer has set an unmatched record – he took part in every edition of the Silk Way Rally!
16 crews are announced in the Truck category, 6 of them representing Russia.
The attention will surely be focused on the four KAMAZ-master trucks: Andrei Karginov, the previous edition’s winner, together with his fellow racers Ayrat Mardeev, Anton Shibalov and Sergey Kupriyanov, will be competing for the podium. Kupriyanov’s crew will once again take the wheel of the unique gas and diesel KAMAZ. Boleslav Levitsky and Mikhail Shklyaev will try to conquer the Silk Way onboard of two GAZ Sadko Next vehicles.
The Russians will compete with strong rivals. Martin van den Brink (the Netherlands), Sergey Vyazovich (Belarus) and Teruhito Sugawara (Japan) are experienced truckers ready to contend for the championship.
In 2019, for the first time in its history, the Silk Way Rally will host the motorcycle category that will gather 24 bikers in Irkutsk this July. Due to the fact that Russia-Mongolia-China race was included in the calendar of the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship calendar right away, and the event has attracted attention of the strongest riders willing to be part of the fascinating race.
Suffice to say that the top five leaders of the 2019 championship are in: Sam Sunderland, Luciano Benavides, Jose Ignacio Cornejo, Kevin Benavides, Andrew Short. Talking about the crews, four factory teams will take part in the Rally: KTM, Honda, Yamaha and Husqvarna.
Three female bikers will beautify the category this year: Anastasia Nifontova (Russia), Laia Sanz (Spain) and Gabriela Novotna (the Czech Republic).
The quad category is bearing the smallest number with only three riders. Legendary Rafal Sonik will start off under Number 1. The Polish quad rally driver is a three time World champion and a seven time participant (and one time winner) of the Dakar rally. He will have to face the 2018 World Champion from Russia Alexander Maximov.
Already on the 4th of July, competitors and their vehicles will show up in Irkutsk for administrative and technical inspections on July, 5-6.