July 06, 2021

Get Your "Mad Max" on in Russia's "Silk Way" Rally


Get Your "Mad Max" on in Russia's "Silk Way" Rally
A buggy that will travel the 2021 "Silk Way" Rally | Screenshot from Izvestiya's video reporting

A trip for rugged vehicles of many types and stripes, Russia’s “Silk Way” Rally began on July 1 in Omsk.

The course, inaugurated in 2009 as an initiative between the presidents of Russia, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, provides daredevil drivers the opportunity to push their limits across wild geography and inhospitable regions. Participants take cars, trucks, motorcycles, and Special Service Vehicles. In Izvestiya's reporting from this year’s start, one truck looks like it would even be fit to take its operators to the dump...

The race lasts ten days and spans approximately 3.5 thousand kilometers (approximately 2,175 miles). The cars cross a variety of terrains through Siberia into Mongolia along the Great Silk Road  once traversed by merchant caravans. These include mountains, forests, and fields. One of the toughest passes for the 2021 season is through the desert. The territory here is nearly all plains, which complicates navigation – somewhat like a journey at sea.

Driver Pavel Lebedev explained that participants generally travel off-road at 80/90 kilometers (50/55 miles) per hour, which comprises most of the route. “It is quite difficult both physically, because the temperature in the car can be up to 50-60 degrees [Celsius; about 120-140 Fahrenheit], especially when it is as hot as it is now in Omsk, and similarly it is difficult psychologically.”

Lebedev’s estimate may be somewhat of an exaggeration, as it has been estimated that the human body can only survive in such temperatures with “the help of a pool of water and a powerful fan,” but it testifies to the extremes of the racecourse.

But don’t let hairy descriptions of the “Silk Way” rally discourage you. If you have the ambition, sign up. This year’s participants come from nearly 40 countries to test their mettle on some of Russia’s most brutal landscapes.

 

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