et to compete in round two of the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team riders Adrien Van Beveren, Xavier de Soultrait and Franco Caimi will soon line up at the start of the Silk Way Rally – a 10-day event that will take competitors from Russia to Mongolia before finishing in China. Covering a vast array of challenging and contrasting terrain, the event offers further opportunity to continue the development of the team’s WR450F Rally machines ahead of the 2020 Dakar Rally.
With Adrien Van Beveren competing as the team’s sole representative and winning the Merzouga Rally in Morocco in early April, the Silk Way Rally will bring together three members of the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team as they take on an FIM Cross-Country rallies event for the first time in 2019.
Looking forward to returning to competition, Adrien Van Beveren heads into the Silk Way Rally having spent many weeks training and testing aboard his WR450F Rally with the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team. With several months having passed since his winning ride at the Merzouga Rally, as well as being eager to return to racing, the Frenchman is keen to experience the challenges that the Russian, Mongolian and Chinese stages of the rally will present. With the competition expected to equal January’s Dakar Rally in terms of difficulty and length, AVB is both confident of a positive result yet aware of the size of the challenge that lies ahead.
One of two Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team riders to make their first post-Dakar outing of 2019, the Silk Way Rally is a race that Xavier de Soultrait has long been looking forward to. Following his sixth-place result at the Dakar Rally in January, Xavier returns to competition rested, fully fit and like all riders intrigued to discover what the multi-day event has in store.
For the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team’s third member, the start of the Silk Way Rally is a long-awaited and important moment for Franco Caimi. Agonisingly forced to abort his participation in the 2019 Dakar Rally having worked incredibly hard to return to competition following a fractured right Femur sustained in the Morocco Rally at the end of 2018, Franco is now ready to compete once again. Working tirelessly to make a full recovery from his injury, the Argentinian is hugely motivated to get back behind the bars of his WR450F Rally.
Celebrating its 9th running this year, the 2019 Silk Way Rally features a motorcycle class for the first time. Starting in Irkutsk with a start ceremony on July 6 the event will get under way on July 7 with a short 50km special stage. With overall stage and special stage lengths increasing as the rally moves through Russia and Mongolia, special stage four – a circular stage starting and finishing in Ulaanbaatar – will be the longest at 470km. Competitors will enter China on July 13 (stage 7) with stage eight the longest of the event at 785km total distance. The final competitive and closing stage will see competitors arrive into Dunhuang on July 16.
Adrien Van Beveren
Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“I’m really excited to start the Silk Way Rally. It’s been some months now since we enjoyed a very positive Merzouga Rally and I’m really looking forward to getting back into competition and also to spend time with the team. We’ve been spending a lot of time working on and developing the bike, which has been very good. We have taken some very positive steps already in terms of improving the bike for the next Dakar. We still need more time to fully evaluate and confirm these changes, so I will compete on a bike that is the same specification as in the last Dakar. The Silk Way will be a very big and very interesting challenge for all competitors, and I think it can be a very special race. In the motorcycle class it is a new desert for all. I’ve never been to China or Russia so like a lot of the guys it really is a new adventure. I’m expecting some big changes in terms of the landscapes as well as changes in the weather, as well as long stages and long days. I’ve been training a lot recently and feel really good. It’s going to be a long and hard rally, but I want to be fighting at the front of the results and if all goes well I hope to continue with the feeling and results I had at the Merzouga Rally.”
Xavier de Soultrait
Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“The Silk Way Rally will be a very new adventure for us, and an amazing experience to explore a new part of the world. Everyone knows it will be very challenging, maybe as hard as the Dakar. No long rally race is easy, so I expect to face a lot of difficult situations and also a lot of different track conditions. There is a very strong entry, so as well as facing a tough event we will also have a lot of top riders to compete against, which will make it an even more interesting and enjoyable event. I feel good and ready for the competition. We’ve made some important developments to our bikes, so I can’t wait to get started now.”
Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“The Silk Way Rally is a really exciting challenge for everyone and I can’t wait to experience the new countries and terrains of this event. Since injuring my Femur last October it’s been a long and difficult time, but now I am really excited about getting back to racing. I’ve worked a lot on ensuring a full recovery, which hasn’t been easy, but I have pushed really hard to be ready for the Silk Way. It’s a new race for everyone pretty much and my expectations are really high. There will be many unique challenges during the race, and we will take the next steps in moving in a good direction regards our preparations for the next Dakar.”
Off-road Racing Manager Marketing and Motorsport Division
“Everything is now ready for the Silk Way Rally. It’s a new chapter for us and we are looking forward to Yamaha being a strong contender in this exciting event. For Adrien, this will be the second race of the year after his winning performance at Merzouga. I know he is ready, he is confident and fast and fully prepared to take on the race. Xavier will be returning to rally after having surgery on his arm but he is also fully fit now and keen to race the Silk Way. It’s the first full race back for Franco after his crash in Morocco, so I think it will take him a little time to build his confidence and get back on the pace, but I believe he will get there over the course of the rally. Clearly the Silk Way is going to be one of the main races of the year and will prove very important for our preparation for the next Dakar – both races will be completely new to us and both races will be the same 10 days long. For this reason, it was important for us to participate and evaluate our performance level on this type of event.”
Silk Way Rally 2019 – Race Schedule
Stage 1 | July 7 | Irkutsk to Baikalsk | SS: 50.87km | Total 255.53km
Stage 2 | July 8 | Baikalsk to Ulan-Ude | SS: 212.02km | Total: 413.63
Stage 3 | July 9 | Ulan-Ude to Ulaanbaatar| SS: 243.00km | Total: 691.35km
Stage 4 | July10 | Ulaanbaatar to Ulaanbaatar |SS: 470.19km | Total 476.96km
Stage 5 | July 11 | Ulaanbaatar to Mandalgovi | SS: 337km | Total: 364.59km
Stage 6 | July 12 | Mandalgovi to Dalanzadgad | SS: 408.17 km | Total: 411.75 km
Stage 7 | July 13 | Dalanzadgad to Bayinbaolige| N/A | Total 550.66km
Stage 8 | July 14 | Bayinbaolige to Alashan | SS: 326.6 km | Total: 785.11km
Stage 9 | July 15 | Alashan to Jiayuguan | SS: 290.30km | Total: 501.2km
Stage 10 | July 16 | Jiayuguan to Dunhuang | SS:255km | Total: 556.66 km