The Silk Way Rally is officially expanding outside Russia for the first time since 2019 as the 2024 edition will start in Tomsk before going to Mongolia and finishing in China. Revealed on Wednesday, the 2024 route will stretch roughly 5,500 kilometres with 2,500 in timed Selective Sections.
Tomsk, located in Siberia, will host the start of the race on 5 July before heading south to Barnaul and Gorno-Altaysk, the capital of the Altai Republic. Kosh-Agach, straddling the border with Mongolia, will be the final town for the rally’s Russian leg before crossing over and making a beeline for Khovd. Eventually, the rally goes west into China’s Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture and finishes on 15 July in Khorgos, next to China’s border by Kazakhstan.
Course reconnaisance was completed in late October.
“During the reconaissance, we visited the luxurious landscapes of Russia, and entered the territory of Mongolia, with its extraordinary landscapes, which we wanted to show to participants in 2021,” said Viktor Sokolov, the deputy head of the Silk Way Rally Association. “We were able to combine various types of road surfaces and different climatic conditions in one route. We drive from the taiga into permafrost areas, climb mountains to an altitude of more than 2,500 meters above sea level, we drive along dunes that stretch for fifty to sixtyh kilometres. Such diversity can probably put this Silk Way in first place among those we have run. Participants need to remember this slogan: ‘Mountains, stones, sand.'”
The rally first added legs beyond Russia with the inaugural race in 2009, before resuming the practice in 2016 with the addition of China and Kazakhstan. Mongolia was included in 2019 as the middle stages before the race ended in China. After COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 race, the resumption in 2021 was exclusively in Russia. Organisers considered a gigantic route for 2022 that began in Qatar, ran across seven other countries, and finished in Syria, though it was subsequently shelved in favour of another Russia-only course.
Any interest of going outside Russian borders since has mostly been killed in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Although the Chinese Automobile and Motorcycle Federation complies with the FIA’s policies regarding the war, Russo-Chinese relations have generally been warm since on the sporting front. Since 2022, truck team KAMAZ-master has fielded an entry for Chinese driver Hou Honging in partnership with the CAMF.
“When creating this race, we sought not only to find the most interesting and beautiful places in the regions along which the rally route will pass, but also to go beyond the usual boundaries of rally raids,” commented SWR and KAMAZ-master manager Vladimir Chagin. “The vast historical and cultural heritage of the countries will leave an indelible impression in the hearts of all participants.
“Despite the difficult economic situation in our country and the world, rising prices and inflation, the Project Directorate strives to support athletes in their desire to conquer the Silk Road. Therefore, our main goal is to keep tariffs at a level accessible to all categories of participants.”