Automotive

Silk Way Rally: Scintillating racing and sublime scenery from the opening stages

Peugeot catches some air on the Silk Way Rally 
Peugeot catches some air on the Silk Way Rally 
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One of the Mini X-Raid cars tackles stage one of the Silk Way Rally 
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One of the Mini X-Raid cars tackles stage one of the Silk Way Rally 
Peugeot has been successful at Dakar, but the Silk Way Rally is a different challenge 
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Peugeot has been successful at Dakar, but the Silk Way Rally is a different challenge 
The Silk Way Rally is also run by some massive rally raid trucks
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The Silk Way Rally is also run by some massive rally raid trucks
The Tatra Phoenix has a 16-speed gearbox
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The Tatra Phoenix has a 16-speed gearbox
Although they don't get the same coverage as the big teams, there are plenty of home-made cars and smaller outfits racing in the Silk Way Rally 
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Although they don't get the same coverage as the big teams, there are plenty of home-made cars and smaller outfits racing in the Silk Way Rally 
Kamaz has made a slow start to the Silk Way Rally 
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Kamaz has made a slow start to the Silk Way Rally 
Peugeot catches some air on the Silk Way Rally 
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Peugeot catches some air on the Silk Way Rally 
Some of the best images of the Silk Way Rally 
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Some of the best images of the Silk Way Rally 
The Instaforex Tatra 815/2 takes on the Silk Way Rally 
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The Instaforex Tatra 815/2 takes on the Silk Way Rally 
Belarusian driver Siarhei Viazovich tackles the course in his Maz 5309RR
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Belarusian driver Siarhei Viazovich tackles the course in his Maz 5309RR
Long distance rallying is a seriously difficult game, and cars need to be tough. Just check out the suspension on this Iveco entrant 
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Long distance rallying is a seriously difficult game, and cars need to be tough. Just check out the suspension on this Iveco entrant 
Side-by-sides like the Polaris RZR have a class at the Silk Way Rally 
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Side-by-sides like the Polaris RZR have a class at the Silk Way Rally 
The Silk Way Rally claims a victim on day two 
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The Silk Way Rally claims a victim on day two 
Fujiang Wang takes on the Silk Way Rally in his Polaris RZR 
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Fujiang Wang takes on the Silk Way Rally in his Polaris RZR 
Peugeot is back as a force in races like the Paris-Dakar and Silk Way Rally 
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Peugeot is back as a force in races like the Paris-Dakar and Silk Way Rally 
Martin Kolomy gets his Tatra Phoenix dirty in the mud on the Silk Way Rally 
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Martin Kolomy gets his Tatra Phoenix dirty in the mud on the Silk Way Rally 
Some stunning scenery on the Silk Way Rally 
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Some stunning scenery on the Silk Way Rally 
Team MAZ-Sportauto is going head-to-head with the long-standing champions at Kamaz 
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Team MAZ-Sportauto is going head-to-head with the long-standing champions at Kamaz 
Red Bull and Kamaz make for a formidable pairing at the Silk Way Rally 
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Red Bull and Kamaz make for a formidable pairing at the Silk Way Rally 
The Silk Way Rally runs from Moscow, through Russia and Kazakhstan into China  
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The Silk Way Rally runs from Moscow, through Russia and Kazakhstan into China  
The Silk Way Rally runs along the Volga 
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The Silk Way Rally runs along the Volga 
Although the drivers are unlikely to notice, the Silk Way Rally is held surrounded by some incredible scenery 
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Although the drivers are unlikely to notice, the Silk Way Rally is held surrounded by some incredible scenery 
China's Baicmotor is taking on the Silk Way Rally in the BJ40L
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China's Baicmotor is taking on the Silk Way Rally in the BJ40L
Water, mud, asphalt and gravel are all part of the Silk Way Rally
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Water, mud, asphalt and gravel are all part of the Silk Way Rally
Stephan Peterhansel traverses the forest in his Peugeot 3008DKR 
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Stephan Peterhansel traverses the forest in his Peugeot 3008DKR 
The massive Tatra and Kamaz trucks look ridiculous in such pretty, tight surroundings 
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The massive Tatra and Kamaz trucks look ridiculous in such pretty, tight surroundings 
Mud is a big part of the Silk Way Rally. We'd tell you who this actually is, but it's impossible to tell with no number, badge, paint or branding visible. Still, go that driver!
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Mud is a big part of the Silk Way Rally. We'd tell you who this actually is, but it's impossible to tell with no number, badge, paint or branding visible. Still, go that driver!
Hands up if you're a bit muddy... The Silk Way Rally gets messy
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Hands up if you're a bit muddy... The Silk Way Rally gets messy
Spectators pushing for a perfect shot at Silk Way Rally
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Spectators pushing for a perfect shot at Silk Way Rally
The Silk Way Rally concludes on July 22 in Xi'an, China 
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The Silk Way Rally concludes on July 22 in Xi'an, China 
Being a photographer on the Silk Way Rally is a dirty job
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Being a photographer on the Silk Way Rally is a dirty job
Iveco and MAZ are trying to take down Kamaz at the Silk Way Rally this year
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Iveco and MAZ are trying to take down Kamaz at the Silk Way Rally this year
Dmitry Sotinkov gets his Kamaz down and dirty on the Silk Way Rally
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Dmitry Sotinkov gets his Kamaz down and dirty on the Silk Way Rally
The Toyota Landcruiser is renowned for its longevity, something that comes in handy on the 10,000 km Silk Way Rally
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The Toyota Landcruiser is renowned for its longevity, something that comes in handy on the 10,000 km Silk Way Rally
The Silk Way Rally winds through Kazakhstan on its way to China
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The Silk Way Rally winds through Kazakhstan on its way to China
A Renault K250 makes a splash at the Silk Way Rally
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A Renault K250 makes a splash at the Silk Way Rally
The low-slung side-by-sides get filthy on the muddy, wet parts of the Silk Way Rally
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The low-slung side-by-sides get filthy on the muddy, wet parts of the Silk Way Rally
A look at the stunning surrounds of the Silk Way Rally
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A look at the stunning surrounds of the Silk Way Rally
Traffic takes on a very different meaning on the Silk Way Rally
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Traffic takes on a very different meaning on the Silk Way Rally
Artur Ardavicus fords a stream in his Iveco 4x4 DRNL
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Artur Ardavicus fords a stream in his Iveco 4x4 DRNL
Another casualty of the Silk Way Rally
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Another casualty of the Silk Way Rally
The Silk Way Rally runs until July 22
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The Silk Way Rally runs until July 22
The Toyota Hilux is a favourite among smaller teams and privateers
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The Toyota Hilux is a favourite among smaller teams and privateers
MAZ takes on the countryside in the Silk Way Rally
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MAZ takes on the countryside in the Silk Way Rally
Team Mini X-Raid isn't showing the same pace it managed last year 
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Team Mini X-Raid isn't showing the same pace it managed last year 
The Peugeot 3008DKR looks at home on the road, but does its best work in the rough stuff
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The Peugeot 3008DKR looks at home on the road, but does its best work in the rough stuff
Stunning vistas are a part of the Silk Way Rally 
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Stunning vistas are a part of the Silk Way Rally 
Sometimes three wheels are better than two, especially on the fast sections of the Silk Way Rally
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Sometimes three wheels are better than two, especially on the fast sections of the Silk Way Rally
The Silk Way Rally will be broadcast worldwide this year 
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The Silk Way Rally will be broadcast worldwide this year 
Maarten Van Den Brink takes on the Silk Way Rally in his Renault CBH 385
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Maarten Van Den Brink takes on the Silk Way Rally in his Renault CBH 385
Kamaz kicks up the dust on the Silk Way Rally
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Kamaz kicks up the dust on the Silk Way Rally
Mini is playing catch-up with the Peugeot 3008DKR 
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Mini is playing catch-up with the Peugeot 3008DKR 
A Polaris RZR side-by-side plunges into the forest on the Silk Way Rally 
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A Polaris RZR side-by-side plunges into the forest on the Silk Way Rally 
The Riwald Renault is an ungainly looking beast
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The Riwald Renault is an ungainly looking beast
Spare wheels are essential on rallies like this, because punctures are almost a given 
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Spare wheels are essential on rallies like this, because punctures are almost a given 
An Opel Mokka tackles the water on the Silk Way Rally
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An Opel Mokka tackles the water on the Silk Way Rally
Kamaz has a strong reputation in the Paris-Dakar and Silk Way Rally
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Kamaz has a strong reputation in the Paris-Dakar and Silk Way Rally
Sebastien Loeb looking ready for action
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Sebastien Loeb looking ready for action

The Silk Way Rally doesn't get the same coverage as the legendary Paris-Dakar, but it's one of the toughest tests in the automotive world. The course spans almost 10,000 km (6,214 mi) along an approximation of the ancient Silk Road, beginning in Moscow and weaving through Russia and Kazakhstan on its way to Xi'an, China. Here are some of the best images from the first three legs of the event, which kicked off earlier this week.

At the moment, the highly-fancied Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi piloted by Sebastien Loeb is sitting in the race lead, just a few seconds ahead of teammate Stephane Peterhansel. Peugeot is one of the favorites for the event having won the last two Paris-Dakar rallies, and arrived at the start line in Moscow with a different take on the 3008 DKR for Loeb to test ahead of the Paris-Dakar.

As you might have gathered from the Maxi name, it's a whopping 20 cm (8 in) wider than the model it replaces, which opens the door for a 10 cm (4 in) increase in suspension track. According to the team, that makes for a more stable ride on rough roads at high speeds. Given these rallies are conducted at high speeds on rough roads, that's probably a good development.

The Silk Way Rally claims a victim on day two 
The Silk Way Rally claims a victim on day two 

Although Loeb and his Peugeot teammates aren't likely to be taking too much notice, the rally is run on some simply stunning roads. The event organizers have developed a route that highlights the history of the region, and are hoping to position it as a high-profile part of the world motorsports calendar.

Mud is a big part of the Silk Way Rally. We'd tell you who this actually is, but it's impossible to tell with no number, badge, paint or branding visible. Still, go that driver!
Mud is a big part of the Silk Way Rally. We'd tell you who this actually is, but it's impossible to tell with no number, badge, paint or branding visible. Still, go that driver!

One step toward that goal is a new television deal for the race, which will see it broadcast worldwide. Another is the excellent companion website. Not only does it offer up-to-date results and images, you can actually check in on where each car is and how fast it's going at any point. As I write this story, Sebastien Loeb is hammering through the Kazakhstan countryside at 152 km/h (94 mph), followed closely by Yong Zhou in his Toyota Hilux.

The rally is currently underway, and runs until July 22.

Source: Silk Way Rally

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