World Rally-Raid Championship

China dropped from 2024 Silk Way Rally route

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Credit: Silk Way Rally Association

While the Silk Way Rally will go beyond Russian borders for the first time since 2019, China will not be part of it as the 2024 route will simply cross between Russia and Mongolia. According to the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of China, the country’s cities that the rally was supposed to cross have yet to return to pre-COVID business activity, sparking the withdrawal.

Tomsk in Siberia will remain the host city for the race start on 5 July, but it will now end on 15 July in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. Originally, the final leg was scheduled to be in Khorgos along China’s border with Kazakhstan. The first four stages will be in Russia while the last seven are in Mongolia; after Tomsk, the rally heads through Barnaul, Gorno-Altaysk, and Kosh-Agach before crossing into the Gobi Desert. Even with the modified route, the race will still retain its original distance of roughly 5,500 kilometres with 2,500 in Selective Sections.

China is expected to return for the 2025 race.

“Ulaanbaatar is one of the most colourful and vibrant cities, and I’m glad that the Silk Way Rally is not only returning to Mongolia, but will also have a Ceremonial finish here,” said Vladimir Chagin, seven-time Dakar Rally winner and current International Silk Way Rally Project director. “Spectators and fans will find a real sports festival, where they will witness the heroes of our marathon rally who have just completed the full distance.

“I would like to thank the Government of Mongolia for their assistance and participation in organizing the Silk Way Rally. Our competition shows our collective capability.”

The Silk Way Rally has long had stages outside of Russia and introduced Mongolia in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the race to be confined within Russia when it was revived in 2021 and continued through 2023. At one point, organisers plotted a massive route for the 2022 race that ran through nine countries including Qatar, Iran, Turkey, and Syria, though this was dropped due to impracticality and perhaps obvious geopolitical consequences. On Friday, the International Silk Way Rally Project visited Turkmenistan to discuss organising a race in the country, which is currently scheduled for September.

Race officials will begin scouting the route in April.

The race is the fifth round of the 2024 Russian Rally-Raid Championship. Siarhei Viazovich is the defending overall winner.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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