Courtesy of Yamaha Racing
Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team rider Adrien Van Beveren has finished third overall in the 2019 Silk Way Rally, round two of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Successfully completing the 10-day race across Russia, Mongolia and China, and following more than 26 hours of timed special stage racing, the Frenchman secured a well-deserved third-place result on his WR450F Rally finishing just 39 seconds from the runner-up position.
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.
Adrien Van Beveren – Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“I’m very pleased with the way the Silk Way Rally has finished for me. The last few days, which have been the toughest and most technical of the race with very challenging navigation, have been very good. I pushed hard during the second half of the rally and I’m really happy that I finished on the podium. As always a real team effort. Initially, when today’s stage finished I wasn’t totally pleased because I was pushing for second overall and didn’t quite manage to take that position. I rode a very good stage today, I had almost taken back the time I needed to move ahead of Andrew Short in the overall, but then I made a small navigational error and lost four or five minutes. But finishing on the podium is the most important thing. The race has been very long and difficult for everyone in the team, and also with a very strong entry. So again, to finish on the podium is very pleasing. No one really knew what to expect from this race before the start, but it has been incredible – very difficult but also very enjoyable and interesting.”
Franco Caimi – Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“Well, the Silk Way Rally has certainly been a memorable experience. For me, to simply be back with the team and competing once again in a high-profile rally has been great. After many months away from competition and recovering from injury it’s been amazing to get back racing. I knew it would take time to get back into the rhythm of a rally like this, but stage-by-stage I feel I was doing that. In some stages I felt very good and was able to get results I am pleased with, but most importantly for me I’m back racing again. As always, the team has been fantastic and from here we will keep building towards next year’s Dakar.”
Xavier de Soultrait – Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“Of course, this has not been the race I hoped for, but it has still been an incredible experience. I tried to make a fast start to the rally and be near the front of the results during the opening stages, like we planned. But I made too many mistakes and didn’t have luck on my side. But we certainly learned a lot from this race, which is also important. On some of the stages my speed and navigation was good, and I’m very pleased about this. It’s been a long and challenging rally for everyone, but an incredible experience traveling and racing through Russia, Mongolia and China.”
Off-road Racing Manager Marketing and Motorsport Division
“In finishing on the final motorcycle class podium we can say that the Silk Way Rally has very much been a success for Adrien, even if he was so, so close to a second-place result. His target was always to show his strong form and that’s what he did. The start of the race in Russia wasn’t so much to his liking and he lost some time there, but through Mongolia he was focused and consistent and then in China, in his conditions, he was very impressive. Ahead of our final tests and events later this year this is a very pleasing result for all the team. Franco was very unlucky. For him, the rally was all about gaining back confidence and returning to competition. He was fifth for some time, which was very positive, and he was getting faster and faster. A small issue meant that he had to return to the bivouac by road on one of the stages, picking up a sizeable time penalty. After a good opening stage Xavier de Soultrait unfortunately had a big crash, also having to leave the stage to return to the bivouac. Continuing in the race he was able to test and develop his bike, also showing good speed. The rally has been a huge test for all competitors and teams, and the new structure of the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team has performed superbly.”
Silk Way Rally 2019
Provisional results (after stage 10)
1. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 26:12:47
2. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 26:33:09 +20:22
3. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 26:33:48 +21:02
4. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 26:34:24 +21:37
5. Luciano Benavides (KTM) 26:49:37 +36:50
16. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 40:13.07
22. Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) 136:28.09
Silk Way Rally 2019 – Race Schedule
Stage 1 | July 7 | Irkutsk to Baikalsk | SS: 50.87km | Total 255.53km
Stage 2 | July 8 | Baikalsk to Ulan-Ude | SS: 212.02km | Total: 413.63
Stage 3 | July 9 | Ulan-Ude to Ulaanbaatar| SS: 243.00km | Total: 691.35km
Stage 4 | July10 | Ulaanbaatar to Ulaanbaatar | SS: 470.19km | Total 476.96km
Stage 5 | July 11 | Ulaanbaatar to Mandalgovi | SS: 337km | Total: 364.59km
Stage 6 | July 12 | Mandalgovi to Dalanzadgad | SS: 408.17 km | Total: 411.75 km
Stage 7 | July 13 | Dalanzadgad to Bayinbaolige| N/A | Total 550.66km
Stage 8 | July 14 | Bayinbaolige to Alashan | SS: 326.6 km | Total: 785.11km
Stage 9 | July 15 | Alashan to Jiayuguan | SS: 290.30km | Total: 501.2km
Stage 10 | July 16 | Jiayuguan to Dunhuang | SS:255km | Total: 556.66 km