Rallyraid Info Service Network
Edition five of the Silk Way Rally features a mostly renewed route, exclusively designed with the pleasure of the competitors in mind. Thanks to its world-class organisation, welcoming bivouacs where everyone likes to come together and its exceptional route, the Silk Way has quickly become a must due event for a large number of competitors from around the world. A rally-raid, where large plains, deserts, sand and navigation are omnipresent.
Adventure and discovery, which have sadly become rare commodities these days, are what the organisers want to share with the participants and media. While waiting for July 6, here is just a taste of what the Silk Way 2013 competitors will encounter.
July 6, Moscou-Tambov
« The Magic of Red Square »
The highlight of day one will be the magnificent Start Ceremony in Moscow’s Red Square. With a party atmosphere in the air and in the presence of the Muscovite spectators and international press, the competitors will set off on a 450 kilometre liaison sector and arrive in the city of Tambov. This will be the opportunity to make the final adjustments before the first timed sector of the rally the following morning.
July 7, Stage 1, Tambov-Volgograd
SS – 1А « The Russian Savannah »
After a liaison sector of more than 200kms the competitors will arrive at the start line for the opening special stage of the rally. Now the real business at hand will begin! In fact, at this early point in the event, the competitors will have already completed nearly all the road sectors of the rally. The day’s stage will be split into two timed sectors, separated by a neutralisation. The first sector at roughly 200km will allow the competitors to discover the splendid countryside of central Russia, on compact and clearly visible tracks, ideally suited for driving fast.
At the start of the stage, run around lakes and rivers, the tracks are rolling and twisty in places. Then, after the fast tracks in the fields, the competitors will discover a landscape similar to an African savannah, where navigation will be more difficult and average speeds will be slower.
SS-1В « The sand traps of the Archeda »
After the morning warm-up, the second sector will be the first test for the Silk Way participants. The sand tracks will gradually lead to a more desert like environment, where coming in contact with wildlife is common place. Then the teams will face the first dunes that measure up to 12 metres, particularly abrupt and covered in soft sand. The competitors will have to adjust tyre pressure in order to avoid getting stuck in the sand. As the desert zones continue, the co-drivers will be put to a mighty test! Finally, the Archeda dunes will be the final challenge of the stage. The first major difficulties of the rally could take place in this unique and mysterious location. The last 30kms will be run on fantastic rolling tracks that will lead the competitors directly to the Volgograd bivouac and the finish line of this epic stage.
July 8, Stage 2, Volgograd-Volgograd
SS-2А « In the footsteps of History »
For July 8, two new timed sectors for this loop stage, in a region the rally will pass through for the first time. This stage has historical significance as this year is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad….a particularly important event that will honour the 100s of thousands of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in saving the world from fascism. The day’s first special stage will start from the bivouac and will feature everything the Silk Way is known for: fast rolling tracks, alternating with tighter sections that on occasion will be rocky. The drivers will have to give this stage their undivided attention. Then the dunes and off-road section where navigation will make the difference. The teams will encounter a sea of dunes and sand covered tracks with good visibility in the final portion of the sector. Then comes a neutralisation zone on the motorway that will takes the competitors to the start of the 2nd sector.
SS-2В «The Joy of Driving»
The competitors will then have 120 more km of special stage on varied and unpredictable terrain, where the drivers and co-drivers will share the same pleasure. In climbing and dissenting the length of the Volga River, the teams will search for the perfect trajectory. With the sand know in their rear view mirrors the teams will run a terrain composed of gravel, rocks and limestone. A short 20 km liaison section will lead the field back to the Volgograd bivouac.
July 9, stage 3, Volgograd-Astrakhan
SS 3 « Heading: Caspian Sea! »
Day four is what rally-raid competition is all about. After an 80 km liaison, the start of the nearly 500 km special stage will be given at the highest point of the Khazar steppe. The opening third of the special stage will be fast on rolling tracks that are not always visible and navigation will be relatively easy. The landscape will still be desert-like in this region known for its nomadic population. The massive plateau will offer a stunning 360° panoramic view. Then, after 230 km the competitors will then once again head towards sandy zones. The organisers have traced out 200 km of stage on sandy tracks, with a lot of off-road sections. The co-drivers will have to pay very close attention! The competitors will have to cross the “Berguin” erg and the just as difficult and legendary “Scorpion” erg where it is not unusual for temperatures to reach 40° Celsius. Gradually, the sand will give way to the steppes. Speeds will steadily increase in the final kilometres of the special stage and the competitors of the 2013 Silk Way will head along the banks of the Volga and shores of the Caspian Sea.
July 10, stage 4, Astrakhan-Elista
SS 4 « On the Silk Route»
There will be a change of direction on stage four. The rally will head west from the shores of the Caspian Sea, the cradle of the Russian, Kazak, Turkmenistan, Iranian and Azerbaijan civilizations towards the capital of the Republic of Kalmykia.
The start of heat on the first 150 km. Then the rally leaves the Astrakhan and heads to the infinite space of another desert, the Kalmykia. As they pass by the nature reserves, the teams could come across wildlife such as Eurasian antelopes, deer and herds of horses. The track will become fast with numerous direction changes. Steppes, valleys and hills on the rolling tracks and soon the competitors will head towards a breath taking décor along the shores of a magnificent lake. Then the rally will head towards Elista (which merits the time to visit), on straight and fast tracks.
July 11, stage 5, Elista – Astrakhan
SS 5 « A Thousand and One Dunes »
On this stage the role of the co-drivers will have extra importance as they will have to find the right direction and closely follow the road book if they are to be among the leaders. The rally heads south, traversing tracks in the steppe. On some sections, the track could be in poor shape and the teams will have to be careful not to get caught out in the holes and ravines hidden in the grass. Visual benchmarks will be rare and paying very close attention to the road book will be the key to a strong performance. Then, the first difficulties will present themselves and there will be little civilisation to speak of in this desert-like landscape.
At half-distance the competitors will be able to relax just a bit as the track will become more rolling, especially when crossing the pastures. Then, suddenly, the rally heads south towards the foothills of the Caspian Sea. This 150 km section is a new addition to the Silk Way. The competitors will then have to cross a massive sand zone. Navigating in the heart of the desert, they will only see the horizon when reaching the top of the dunes. 50 km from the finish line, the pace will pick up despite the sand covered tracks. Those who check in at the finish of this stage will certainly be considered as heroes!
July 12, stage 6, Astrakhan-Astrakhan
SS 6, “The Khazar maze”
Day 6 of the race will be another loop stage. The toll on the competitors and their vehicles will start to set in! It is at this precise moment of the rally where the front-runners will have to know how to control their race and for some it will be the time to build up gaps in the classifications. The stage begins on firm ground on fast tracks with good visibility. The route passes between lakes and dry salt lakes, where the cars will be able to reach maximum speed! After the first 50 km, the route veers north and returns to the Astrakhan desert. The route slaloms between wells and abandoned farms. The driving will be easy, but the teams will have to always pay close attention and watch out for ruts. Next there will be a lot of navigation, where very close attention will, once again, have to be paid. This stage will be a mix of sand, extraordinary dunes and rolling tracks. In rally-raid competition it doesn’t get any better than stage 6, which will finish just a few kilometres from the bivouac.
July 13, stage 7, Astrakhan-Astrakhan
SS 7 « The final surprises »
The final stage of the 2013 Silk Way will lead the competitors toward the arrival podium situated in the heart of Astrakhan. While it is only 100 km long, the organisers’ wanted to create a stage that could still deliver a few more surprises. The temptation to let up will be present but everyone will have to remain focused just until the very end.
This special stage will in some respects be a miniature version of the preceding stages! Both amateurs and professionals alike will have the chance to enjoy themselves one last time. The start of the stage on a gravel track will be very fast. Then the track will be sidelined by mounds of sand. The terrain will become more undulating with a few off-road sections in the hills. The co-drivers will have to pay close attention to navigation! There will be one last sand zone at the end of the stage and then the competitors will attack a very fast track on the steppe that will feature long bends and a few jumps. Then, they will drive alongside a railway track, which will remind many of a certain Dakar stage in Mauritania!
The end is near, the finish will be splendid…the extraordinary panoramic view of the Volga River, a final downhill vertiginous run will lead the competitors to the sea shore. The 2013 Silk Way will end on an emotional note with the joy and heart feeling of having taken part in a truly exceptional adventure. The champagne will flow as it will be time to celebrate the winners of the 5th Silk Way!