Offroad history has been made right across the 2019 Silk Way Rally. The 5,000 kilometres through the tough terrains of Russia, Mongolia and China is not a race anybody will be forgetting in a hurry.
Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA)controlled the car race like no crew has ever done at an international rally-raid event. Not only did the duo steer their Toyota Hilux to the overall victory, they set the fastest time on all nine of the timed special stages.
“This was a really good race, from beginning to end. The start in Russia, passing Mongolia and crossing the dunes here in China. It was an incredible race. We are so happy.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Al-Attiyah and Baumel have won every race they have entered this year. They are reigning Dakar champions and current leaders of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. The pair have an air of invincibility every time they step into their car.
“When you have a driver like Nasser with you it helps a lot. We did a good job all the way at this rally and we’re really happy. To win all the stages is something I never thought would be possible.” – Mathieu Baumel
While Al-Attiyah and Baumel were creating history in the car category, bikes were racing at the Silk Way for the first-time ever. With 18 consecutive Dakar wins it was no surprise to see the Red Bull KTM Factory Team take control of the two-wheel contest.
2017 Dakar Rally winner Sam Sunderland (GBR) built up a comfortable lead that he was able to manage during the final stages in China. Sunderland is another to enter the history books, as the winner of the first Silk Way bike race.
“There were huge contrasts in terrain. In Russia we were in the forest, like Sardinia style. Then we were in Mongolia for the fastest stages I have ever ridden in my life. Then really physical days in China to finish things off.” – Sam Sunderland
Second place among the KTM riders went to Luciano Benavides (ARG). After incurring a penalty for a missing timesheet the chances of a podium finish for Benavides were slim. However, the youngster can be encouraged by his fifth place overall as he continues to learn during his first full FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
“In the last few days I had too many mistakes and this put me back in the rankings a bit. Overall, it was a good rally for me and now we’re looking forward to the rest of the world championship.” – Luciano Benavides
The third Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider at the Silk Way was Laia Sanz (ESP). Sanz improved steadily as the rally worked its way through Russia, Mongolia and China. The Spanish rider rose up the rankings stage-by-stage to eventually finish seventh overall.
“It’s been a really nice rally with very good organisation. I’m happy that I came. I had some really good days in Mongolia.” – Laia Sanz
There was a final flourish from truck race winner Anton Shibalov (RUS) on the last stage between Jiayuguan and Dunhuang. The Kamaz trucker won the stage to seal his overall victory.
“The race was always interesting. Every day there was something new to discover. Things have turned out great for us, but it was a tough battle as well. Anything could have happened in the dunes on these last two days.” – Anton Shibalov
It’s been another great Silk Way for Kamaz with Andrey Karginov (RUS) finishing second and Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) third overall.
“The main thing is that Team Kamaz Master won. Our crews took all the prizes so the task is complete.” – Andrey Karginov
With so much great offroad action across 10 days at the Silk Way Rally, the entire convoy can’t wait to come back again next year. We salute all the history-makers and rally-raid racers who put it all on the line in the forests of Russia, the steppes of Mongolia and the dunes of China.
Source: Red Bull