Silk Way Rally gets underway in Omsk


The latest edition of the Russia-Mongolia rally gets underway in Omsk.

The two and four-wheeled competitors have set off for the Silk Way Rally 2021. This year, the rally raiders are taking on a course over mountains, steppes and the perilous Gobi Desert, all part of the ultra-challenging 5,250km route. Here is all you need to know:

– The action got underway on Thursday, July 1 in Omsk, Russia and is set to finish up in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on Sunday, July 11.

– The 2021 edition of the rally is following an intriguing 10-stage schedule. This year the race has become part of the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup for the first time, while it remains on the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship calendar. That means championship points are on offer for competitors on both two and four wheels.

– There’s plenty of local pride at stake for Russian trucking giants Team Kamaz Master. ‘The Blue Armada’ have won all but one of the truck contests at the previous nine editions of the Silk Way.

Eduard Nikolaev, pilot of Kamaz truck #504, said: “We know we must be at our very best to win because all of our closest rivals will come to the Silk Way. It is guaranteed to be an interesting fight all the way to the finish line.”

– Over in the bike race, there’s a chance for 2015 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship winner Matthias Walkner to take the lead of this year’s contest. The 2018 Dakar winner finished as runner-up to Ross Branch at Rally Kazakhstan, the opening round of the new season.

– Speaking after securing a strong fifth place on Stage 1, Walkner said: “That was quite a tough stage to start the rally. I think we all thought this first one wouldn’t be so bad because it was only short, but it turned out to be quite a challenge with a lot of vegetation through the forest. There were a few times that I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision and was on the right track, but in the end I’m pretty pleased with how the stage went.”

– Walkner is out to emulate fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Racing biker Sam Sunderland who won the first ever two wheel contest at the Silk Way in 2019. Sunderland misses out on the chance to defend his title due to injuries sustained at Rally Kazakhstan.

– Making his debut as a GasGas factory rider in Kazakhstan was Daniel Sanders and he rewarded his new team with a fourth-place finish. Now Sanders is targeting further championship points on his first trip to the Silk Way Rally.

– Sanders said: “My strength is definitely racing in sand, so I hope we see plenty of that when we hit Mongolia.”