The FIM’s Cross Country Rallies series continues to change in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, with major route changes announced for the Silk Way Rally.
The race’s original route had stages travelling through Kazakhstan and China. While Kazakhstan hasn’t been making international headlines over the coronavirus pandemic, China certainly has been. The outbreak epicentre of Wuhan might be a long way from the Silk Way Rally’s route, but organizers have made the decision to cancel the Kazakh and Chinese stages completely, and run the race entirely inside the country of Russia.
Now, the race will kick off in Moscow, at Red Square, on July 3, and run through July 11, ending in Kazan. According to the FIM’s press release, “The new route will offer 8 stages and feature all types of terrain: steppes, sandy, rolling and forest tracks. Demanding and packed, the 2020 edition will offer participants 2700 km (approx.) of selective sections for a total distance of 4200 km (approx.) and in so doing will respect the requirements for a marathon round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.”
Vladimir Chagin, the Organisation Director said “We have taken a wise and responsible decision,” and went on to say the rally would be a high-level competition and “formidable voyage,” no doubt hoping to put off suggestions that a race run entirely in one country would be a bit weak. Those accusations were hurled last year at the Dakar Rally, after it was announced it would run entirely in the country of Saudi Arabia, instead of being a trans-continental event.
However, this isn’t the first time the Silk Way has run entirely in Russia. It was a Russia-only event from 2010 to 2013.
This is the second big change in the Cross Country Rallies schedule for 2020; the first was when the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was outright cancelled over COVID-19 concerns. Overall, racing is basically shutting down around the world, with last weekend’s Sonora Rally one of the few major remaining events happening.