After almost 10,000 km (6,214 mi) of hard-fought racing through Russia, Kazakhstan and China, the Silk Way Rally has reached its (early) conclusion. Although he set a strong pace early, a wrist injury forced Sebastien Loeb to retire – putting his Peugeot teammates into the lead in the process. Here are some of the best images from the final stages of the race.
Peugeot seems to have nailed the rally raid formula with the 3008DKR, and its bigger 3008DKR Maxi sibling. Piloted by Sebastien Loeb, the DKR Maxi proved reliable and fast on the rough, tough Silk Way terrain. Unfortunately, a collision with a drain ended its race early. The car was repairable, but injuries to Loeb's thumb and wrist left him unable to hold the wheel.
Fortunately for Peugeot, Cyril Despres slotted straight into the lead after Loeb's retirement, and didn't let it go. He completed the rally in just over 41 hours and 46 mins, more than an hour clear of BAIC Motor driver Christian Lavieille. Wei Han rounded out the podium, just seven minutes short of second place.
In the truck class, Kamaz continued its domination of global rally raid racing. The 980-hp (731-kW) Master 43509 took out the top three spots on the grid, led by Dmitry Sotkinov, who completed the course in 43 hours and 45 minutes. Competition within the Kamaz team was seriously tight – second-placed Anton Shibalov was just six minutes behind Sotkinov, just 17 minutes ahead of Airat Mardeev in third.
Heavy rain forced the cancellation of the final stage, but poor weather couldn't put a dampener on what was a brilliant Silk Way Rally. It doesn't get the same recognition as the Paris-Dakar, but that might not be the case for much longer. The race has an interesting historical backstory – it follows a rough approximation of the ancient Silk Road – but a highlight is the brilliant online coverage.
The stunning images you see here were all taken and supplied by the rally organizers, and the live tracking site was absolutely fantastic. Fans were able to check in on where each car was and how fast it was going at any given point, and the live timing was reliable throughout the race. We'd argue the Silk Way website sets the standard for live motorsports tracking, and that's a big step toward getting people following the race.
Check out the best shots from the final few stages of the race in our gallery.
Source: Silk Way RallyView gallery - 81 images