Racing is back on again, after we lost much of 2020 to COVID-19. The Andalucia Rally just wrapped up (with Joan Barreda triumphant), and now we’ve got more details on the Silk Way Rally’s route.

We already knew the race was headed from the Siberian town of Omsk to Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia, over July 1-11. Registration opened earlier in the winter, and just like the 2019 event, the 2021 event is open to motorcycles (the 2020 event was canceled, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic).

The Silk Way Rally is also on the FIM’s Cross Country Rallies World Championship tour. Does that mean the top Yamaha/KTM/Husqvarna/Honda/Sherco/Hero/Gas Gas riders will show up? Well, many of them weren’t at Andalucia, but Silk Way is rapidly establishing itself on the racing map, so maybe more top guns will be at July’s race.

Speaking of maps: Silk Way officials released a rough map of this year’s route (see below).

Photo: Silk Way

The organizers say there’s a wide range of terrain this year, including forests, steppes, deserts, sand tracks and wadi crossings. There are only 329 kilometres of timed specials in Russia, but once the riders get to Mongolia, things will get considerably more tricky. The Mongolian stages feature specials between 340 kilometres and 540 kilometres every day—talk about raising the difficulty level! Liaisons are much shorter this year, too, only comprising 37 percent of the race’s 5400-kilometre total distance.

There’s a single marathon stage this year, and two days appear to be loops.

With the race barely more than a month and a half away, you might think the organizers are cutting the route announcement a bit close. There’s a reason for that—we’re not in the deserts of Dakar, here, and the scouts actually had to wait for snow to melt before they could pre-run stages in mountainous western Mongolia.

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