Off to Russia we go! We’ve been there once for MXGP, and now Daniel Sanders is there for the epic Silk Way Rally. In what will be only his fourth competitive rally, and his second for GASGAS Factory Racing, the young Aussie will face 10 tough days in the saddle of his RC 450F, and cover over 5,400km as the event progresses from the mixed terrain of Russia into the deserts of Mongolia.
Daniel Sanders: “I’m really looking forward to the Silk Way Rally, it’s definitely looking like it’s going to be hard, both physically and mentally. I’ve been getting in the miles since Kazakhstan, so I’m really happy with how the bike feels and I think we’re in a good place with the settings heading into this second round of the championship. Looking at the terrain it really does look like a real mixture, and the stages are long – even when the specials aren’t too bad, there is often some lengthy liaisons to cover, and that can really prove tiring. My strength is definitely racing in sand, so I hope we see plenty of that when we hit Mongolia. Up to then, my plan is to get through the first week safely and then push on towards the end. With the added points awarded at this race, it’s important to get a good safe finish, so that’s my number one goal.”
Celebrating its 11th edition, the 2021 Silk Way Rally will feature a bike class for only the second time. First introduced in 2019, the global pandemic put a stop to the 2020 event, so for motorcycle competitors the rally still remains very new to all. And with the route changing year-on-year, the race will again present a fresh challenge.
With Sanders jumping in at the deep end of rally competition, the Silk Way represents just his fourth competitive rally outing. Signing for GASGAS Factory Racing earlier this year following a stand-out ride at the Dakar, the 26-year-old will be looking to continue gaining more experience, and work on his speed and navigation skills as he takes on the grueling 10-day event.
Of the 5,442km covered at the event, 3,418km will be timed special, raced against the clock. The rally starts in Omsk and will travel through Russia for three stages before crossing the border into Mongolia. There, the remaining seven stages on the way to the finish at Ulaanbaatar will pose a real challenge to all competitors with the toughest terrain and the longest timed specials testing man and machine. With no rest day, and a marathon stage covering days six and seven, it’s going to be a tough one!
Jordi Viladoms – GASGAS Rally Team Manager: “Daniel did a great job in Kazakhstan, he started off the pace a little during the first few stages, but really came on strong towards the end. Obviously, it will be his first time at Silk Way, so we’ll try to give him the best advice we can for this type of race. Mongolia has delivered some very fast stages with a lot of navigation in the past, so this will be a further test for Daniel, but I believe with his increasing speed and navigational skills, he should have a good chance to put in another strong result.”