THE SUN IS OUT IN IRKUTSK!
The sun is shining on Irkutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia, to welcome the competitors on the 2019 SILK WAY RALLY. And it is alongside the ANGARA, the main river running through the historic centre, fed by the LAKE BAÏKAL 60 kilometres to the east, that the event gets ready to write an important 9th chapter in its history.
Between IRKOUTSK and DUNHUANG, 10 legs of more than 5,000 kilometres, crossing Siberia and Mongolia before arriving in the heart of the Chinese Gobi Desert. An exceptional and fascinating route, of which almost two thirds will be raced against the clock, and which for the first time this year will be part of the FIM World Championships for bikes. Between now and the start podium on Saturday evening, two days of administrative checks and scrutineering, this Thursday and Friday.
START OF SCRUNTINEERING
Arriving from the four corners of the globe, the first bike, car and truck competitors, as well as their assistances crews, will from this morning go through administrative checks (race licences, vehicle documents, driving licences etc.) to be held at the university.
300 metres away, on the route leading to the River Angara, bikes, cars and race trucks will undergo a battery of tests and checks of safety equipment, in accordance with the regulations imposed by the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) and the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile).
From medical forms for the teams, to checks of their vehicles, the time-honoured ritual before attacking one of the toughest races in the world… On the SILK WAY RALLY, as in the other major international rallies, the first priority is always safety. It is why each race vehicle is equipped with an IRITRACK. A geo-localization device that allows each vehicle to be followed in real time, that also instantly alerts the organisers to any kind of incident. It also allows competitors to talk directly to the Race Direction.
Administrative checks - Silk Way Rally, Irkutsk, Russia, July 5, 2019 - Photo Dmitry Galchun/SWR
SHAKE DOWN TESTS
To allow the competitors to make some final set up adjustments, the SILK WAY RALLY organisers have laid out a test track next to the River Angara, not far from centre of IRKUTSK. Open today between 09.00 and 18.00 local time, there are two separate dirt tracks, 1.2 kms for the bikes and 1.6 kms for cars and trucks.
START PODIUM THIS SATURDAY 19.00 (GMT+8)
By the end of the Saturday afternoon the parc ferme will have almost filled up after two days of scrutineering. Following the general briefing a few dozen metres away, the competitors will head towards the Place Speransky from 19.00 (13.00 European time) for the ceremonial podium which marks the official start of this 9th SILK WAY RALLY
STAT OF THE DAY
This 9th SILK WAY RALLY is getting ready to break the record for the number of competitors on the start line. With 181 participants entered in 97 vehicles in the bike, car and truck categories, the event brings together 36 different nationalities. If you count the 175 assistance vehicles and their 521 passengers and, excluding members of the organisation, you reach a grand total of 702 people entered on this 2019 edition.
BETWEEN MYTH AND THE WILDENESS
With 600,000 inhabitants, IRKUTSK is the most populace town in this vast north-eastern region of Russia. For those from the west, the ‘capital’ of Eastern Siberia is famous for the mythic voyage of Michel Strogoff, the captain of the guards of Tsar Alexandre II, from the celebrated novel by Jules Vernes. Irkutsk also evokes cold and distance. Not so true: Irkutsk is the warmest town in the region, where summer temperatures average 18 degrees, going some way to compensate for the harsh winters when temperatures can reach minus 19. Aside from the traditional wooden houses and the local Omoul trout that populate the River Angara, the town is essentially the port of entry to the ‘Pearl of Siberia’ – Lake Baïkal, which fascinates both locals and visitors alike.
▪︎ JULY 5 & 6 ADMINISTRATIVE CHECKS AND SCRUTINEERING IN IRKUTSK
▪︎ JULY 6 START PODIUM CEREMONY IN IRKUTSK
▪︎ JULY 7 to 16 2 STAGES IN RUSSIA, 5 STAGES IN MONGOLIA AND 3 STAGES IN CHINA
▪︎ JULY 16 FINISH CEREMONY IN DUNHUANG
GAZPROM, the rally’s main partner
The Russian global energy company PJSC Gazprom has been engaged on the event as a main partner since the first edition of the Silk Way Rally in 2009.
TOYOTA, « official vehicles » of the organization
Toyota Hilux for the forth time already are the Silk Way Rally official cars.
Because of their unique design and capabilities, TOYOTA all-terrain vehicles have proved their extraordinary resistance during the various reconnaissance and on the rally. Toyota is producing vehicles that you can rely on in any situation. Distinguishing characteristics offroad, endurance, an amazing ability to adapt to harsh road conditions and climate…. Main idea is that Land Cruiser Prado, Land Cruiser 200, Fortuner and Hilux tackle the challenges delegated to them.
SIBUR, technical partner
PJSC SIBUR is the largest integrated petrochemicals company in Russia and the technical partner for innovative materials. They are sponsoring a special award for "impressive vehicle reliability and excellent skills demonstrated under extreme circumstances”.
GAZPROM NEFT, official fuel partner
Gazprom will be filling up the Silk Way Rally’s vehicles along the route with the company’s branded diesel fuel, Diesel Opti. OPTI fuel performed excellently in extreme conditions, and our continuing cooperation is the best proof.
GAZPROMBANK, financial partner
Gazprombank is one of the largest multifunctional banks in Russia.