Nasser Al-Attiyah (#201) (Qat/Toyota Gazoo Racing Overdrive) was unbeatable in the cars category during this year's edition of the Silk Way Rally.
The Qatari pilot and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel led the competition from beginning to end, with 5,000 kilometers rallying across Siberian forest, Mongolian steppes and the giant dunes of the Gobi Desert.
In all of the terrains, Al-Attiyah dominated in the cars, winning all 10 stages to add the title to his impressive list of wins, which include a trio of Dakar titles.
For the first time, the bikes also competed in the Silk Way and the bumpy tracks really tested the pilots abilities.
The American ex-moto cross racer Andrew Short (#29) (Rockstar Husqvarna) and Great Britain's Sam Sunderland (#6) (GB/Red Bull KTM Factory) had a tight fight, but after becoming the first Brit to win the Dakar in 2017, Sunderland also became the first ever Silk Way Rally winner. A triumph that also increases his lead in the Motocross World Championship.
The fast pace of the Silk Way sometimes also made the trucks fly.
Russia's Anton Shibalov (#303) (RUS/Kamaz-Master) initially started the race as a support rider for his team-mates of the Kamaz-Master team, but emerged as the winner after posting some impressive results throughout the gruelling race.
All in all, 93 competitors started this year's edition in Irkutsk, on July 6th. On arrival, after ten days of racing, 77 crossed the finish line in Dunhuang, a rate of 83% of 'finishers'.
“With an international team of very dedicated people we put together a rally that crossed three countries, with very different types of terrain and today we have on the podium three very worth winners of three different nationalities. This spirit of cooperation, combined with adventure and discovery, is what makes our rally so special and motivates us to do something even more exciting for next year’s 10 anniversary. Thank you to everybody who participated in the Silk Way Rally 2019; authorities, competitors, assistance, officials, media and organisers, for making it all possible,” said Vladamir Chagin, Silk Way Rally Director.
“This Silk Way Rally 2019 provoked in us every emotion possible. The introduction of the motorcycle category as part of the FIM World Championship was a great success. The race was thrilling from beginning to end and I am certain that the many factory teams entered appreciated the diversity of the terrain and the professionalism of the organisation. Followed by millions of TV viewers worldwide, this 9th edition gave us amazing images of fantastic scenery that will stay in our collective memories for a very long time. The Silk Way Rally has entered a new dimension and is ready to take another big step next year for its 10th anniversary edition,” said Frédéric Lequien, Silk Way Rally Deputy Director.