Three days into the second round of the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – the Silk Way Rally held in Russia, Mongolia and China – and Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team riders Franco Caimi and Adrien Van Beveren are both placed inside the overall top 10 of the motorcycle class. With the 10-day event today leaving Russia and passing into Mongolia, the WR450F Rally mounted duo have successfully completed wet and muddy opening forested stages and are now ready to take on the longer, open mountain passes of the middle part of the race.
With three days of competition complete it is Franco Caimi who sits highest in the provisional overall results with the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team rider placed a strong seventh, just over 10 minutes down on the race leader. Despite a long and challenging return from injury in recent months, Caimi cautiously rode through the opening special stage to earn an eighth-place finish, just 50 seconds behind team-mate Van Beveren. Entering the longer second stage still focused on a mistake free ride, the Argentinian put in a hugely impressive performance to secure a strong sixth place result, just under three minutes behind the stage winner. Another calculated ride on stage three, despite not feeling 100 per cent settled on the faster, open tracks, saw Franco ride his WR450F Rally to seventh and with it sits seventh overall, ahead of the event’s longest special stage of 470km.
Joining Franco Caimi inside the top 10 of the provisional results, Adrien Van Beveren has also made a strong start to the Silk Way Rally and sits ninth overall as the event passes into Mongolia. Just 50 seconds behind the winner of the opening Russian stage from Irkutsk to Baikalsk, Van Beveren’s eighth-place result on stage one was followed by a 10th place result on stage two, finishing just over six minutes from the fastest time. Enjoying the start of the event’s faster and more flowing mountain tracks, on stage three Adrien finished sixth posting a time of 2:33.58. Ninth overall following three days of competition, Van Beveren sits just under 13 minutes from the motorcycle class leader.
For Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team’s Xavier de Soultrait the 2019 Silk Way Rally has so far been one of mixed fortunes. Returning to competition for the first time since his strong sixth place result at the Dakar Rally, Xavier made a hugely positive start to the opening stage in Russia with the third-fastest time. Completing the short opening special stage in a time just 51 seconds from the winner, the Frenchman was then cruelly unable to finish the second stage following a number of crashes. Needing the organiser to return his bike to the end-of-day bivouac, Xavier was unable to take to the start of stage three but is hopeful of re-starting the event.
Celebrating its ninth 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 began 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.
Franco Caimi – Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“Today’s third stage was really tough – very, very long and close to 12 hours on our bikes. The terrain was very different to the first two days and I’m pleased because I finished safe and with the bike working well. As expected, after such a long time away from competition it is taking me a little time to find my feeling again with these long stages. But I’m really enjoying things and know there are many days ahead of us. I think this rally really starts now, after this long stage. Recovering the best I can is the priority now and then I will push again tomorrow, looking to find a good pace and a safe rhythm.”
Adrien Van Beveren – Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“We can see already that the Silk Way Rally is going to be a very challenging and exciting rally, now that we are out of Russia we have already enjoyed some incredible tracks and scenery in Mongolia. I took things carefully during the first two days as this is a long race. The water and mud wasn’t too much fun but the most important thing for me was to get through those stages with no problems. Today’s stage has been really enjoyable – fast and flowing tracks across beautiful countryside. The rally is really just starting now so the next days will be very important.”
Xavier de Soultrait – Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“It’s not been the start to the rally that I’d hoped for, but this is motorsport. In the special stage on day two I had some crashes. That meant that I was unable to finish the stage, so I had to contact the organiser and return to the bivouac by helicopter. The bike arrived very late to the bivouac and with the super early start for today’s third stage there was not enough time to prepare the bike and make the start. Everyone is working so that I can re-start the race tomorrow.”
Silk Way Rally 2019
Silk Way Rally 2019 – Provisional classification (after stage 3)
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 05:20.42
2. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 05:23.36
3. Joan Barreda (Honda) 05:23.51
4. Luciano Benavides (KTM) 05:25.01
5. Paulo Goncalves (Hero) 05:30.10
7. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 05:31.22
9. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 05:33.34
Silk Way Rally 2019 – Race Schedule
Stage 1 | July 7 | j | SS: 50.87km | Total 255.53km
Stage 2 | July 8 | Baikalskto 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