There’s nothing quite like the prospect of a new adventure on the horizon to get the planet’s elite rally-raid pilots geared up for action.
That’s why the redesigned route of the 2017 Silk Way Rally has got offroad racers all over the world signing up to take part in the mammoth Trans-Eurasian contest.
The 14-stage behemoth starts on July 7, but we’ve got a list of reasons to get excited right now about what’s coming our way…
1. Amazing landscapes
The seventh edition of the Silk Way Rally will depart from Moscow’s iconic Red Square and for the first time ever it will finish in the Imperial City of Xi’an. From Russia’s most famous landmark to the home of China’s Terracotta Army the rally will pass stunning scenery including breathtaking canyons in Kazakhstan. Of course the job of the drivers will be to keep their eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead, but on the liaison routes connecting each stage they’ll be able to take in the amazing surroundings.
2. The best rally-raid drivers
There’s no point getting involved in rally-raid if you don’t live for the next challenge, so it’s no surprise to see so many of best offroad drivers entered into the upcoming Silk Way Rally. Team Peugeot Total’s recent back-to-back Dakar Rally wins were complemented by victory at the last Silk Way. Three Peugeot 3008 DKRs are heading back out to the Far East and will be driven by Stéphane Peterhansel, Sébastien Loeb and last year’s winner Cyril Despres. Competing with the Peugeot trio for success in the car category will be two-time Dakar victor Nasser Al-Attiyah at the control of his Toyota Hilux. Over in the truck category there’s a strong line-up from Team Kamaz Master of Russia as they look to make it four wins on the spin at this event.
3. A new route from Moscow to Xi’an
The 2016 Silk Way Rally concluded at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium, but this year the chequered flag will fall in Xi’an – capital city of China’s Shaanxi Province. All three host countries of Russia, Kazakhstan and China are back onboard for 2017 and the race’s total distance remains in excess of 10,000km.
4. All the elements of rally-raid at its best
We’ve been promised plenty of all-new, untravelled routes through the Russian part of the rally this year that’ll feature speedy sections over open country. Then the Silk Way convoy moves on to the mountain plateaus and ravines of Kazakhstan that have seen competitors pushed to their limits in recent editions of the contests. The final challenges take place in China’s Gobi Desert where giant dunes must be navigated before thoughts turn to the finish line in Xi’an.
5. Great action
We were treated to some fierce inter-team rivalry last time out and it looks like more could be on the menu at the 2017 Silk Way Rally. Team Peugeot Total’s threesome will all fancy their chances of coming out on top, so the battle between Peterhansel, Loeb and Despres is well worth keeping an eye on. And then there’s sand racing specialist Al-Attiyah also in the mix, who could spring a surprise once the rally reaches the Gobi Desert. Over in the truck category it’s Kamaz’s Ayrat Mardeev who returns as reigning champion but will his team-mate and reigning Dakar champion Eduard Nikolaev be the one celebrating in front of the Terracotta Army?
The 2017 Silk Way Rally takes place from July 7-22 and you can follow all the action on RedBull.com/Motorsports.