Plans have been revealed to revive motorsport’s Silk Way Rally and transform it into a major event running from Moscow to Beijing, with the Chinese and Russian governments, along with Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom, backing the project.The Silk Way Rally ran from 2009 to 2013, but was mostly held within Russia. However, after a two-year hiatus it is set to return in 2016, following the path of the Silk Road, the historic network of trade routes connecting Eastern Europe with Asia.
Organisers said the sixth edition of the Silk Way Rally will start from the Red Square in Moscow in July 2016 and finish in the heart of the Chinese capital. They added that the involvement of the different governments marks the “obvious recognition” of the international status of the event.
The total length of the route will be roughly 10,000 kilometres, more than half of them on special stages. Gazprom, which backed the inaugural Silk Way Rally in 2009, has agreed a three-year deal to become the main partner of the relaunched event.
Gazprom president Alexey Miller said: “Our cooperation with the People’s Republic of China is booming. The Silk Way Rally, connecting the capitals of both our countries, will become a bright symbol of our strategic partnership.”
Russian truck manufacturer Kamaz, whose vehicles have won the Dakar Rally on multiple occasions, is also backing the project. Sergey Kogogin, general director of the company, said: “In five years, the Silk Way Rally has become a famous race, well known in the motorsport world.
“I am glad that the rally is becoming international in 2016, connecting Russia to China. This underlines once again the traditional friendship between our two countries. The Silk Way Rally will be another stimulus to strengthen the strategic partnership of cooperation… and not only in sports. For the rally participants, the updated Silk Way Rally will give an excellent opportunity to show their professional skills and the latest developments in the automotive industry.”
Organisers said full details of the route will be revealed at an official presentation in mid-October.