The longest and one of the most anticipated events of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the 2019 Silk Way Rally proved to be every bit as challenging as the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team expected it to be. Allowing motorcycles to compete for the very first time, the 'unknown' event and it's Dakar-mirroring 10-day schedule not only provided a stunning array of landscapes and terrain but also numerous long days in the saddle and day-after-day of demanding navigation.
Looking to build on his winning result from the Merzouga Rally, Adrien Van Beveren, like many, was curious to explore the world championship's most easterly round and return to competition at a race that would unquestionably deliver multiple challenges. Cautiously working his way through the wet and muddy opening stages in Russia, Van Beveren stuck to his plan of taking no risks and moving onto the Mongolian stages ready to increase his speed.
The fast and flowing open tracks of Mongolia went well for Van Beveren, who improved his position in the overall standings with a fourth-place result on stage four and a fifth-place result on stage five. Completing the final Mongolian stage in eighth, as the competition crossed the border into China he held eighth overall.
Specifically targeting the final three stages of the event as the place where he would increase his pace in a bid to secure a podium result, Van Beveren immediately hit his stride in the sands of the Gobi Desert. Second and just 42 seconds from victory on stage eight he again placed as runner-up on the event's penultimate stage nine meaning that he sat less than one-minute behind the second-placed rider with all to play for on the final day.
Confident of a strong final day result, Van Beveren attacked the stage and by the refuelling point was leading having moved into a virtual second overall. Frustratingly, with only a handful of kilometres to go he made a small navigational mistake, which handed back time to his closest rival. Although finishing the stage second Van Beveren wasn't quite able to do enough to take second overall. Nevertheless, he completed the 5,000km event in a strong third position.
For Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team riders Franco Caimi and Xavier de Soultrait the 2019 Silk Way Rally proved to be a demanding one. While both riders showed notable resolve, each faced challenges that ultimately derailed their hopes of top 10 overall results.With both riders returning to competition for the first time since the Dakar Rally in January, both Caimi and De Soultrait were highly motivated to perform well.
For Caimi the Silk Way Rally was all about rebuilding confidence within competition having been away from racing for many months. Showing improving pace and sticking to his plan of not pushing too hard too soon the Argentinian was placed a strong fifth overall, and as the leading Yamaha rider, as the event crossed the border from Mongolia into China. An issue on stage eight resulted in a heavy time penalty but in completing the 10th and final stage Franco made it to the finish of the event.
Experiencing two separate issues during his participation in the Silk Way Rally Xavier de Soultrait was unable to show his true level of performance, nevertheless the Frenchman showed consistency and tenacity throughout the 10-day competition.