José Luis Peña Campo, the FIA 2018 Cross Country Rally World Cup Champion of the T3 category, is no stranger to gruelling off-road conditions, intense riding and harsh environments; and now the Polaris Xtreme Plus pilot will be the first ever Spaniard to enter the Silk Way Rally 2019 in the SSV category – considered one of the most extreme events next to the Dakar Rally.
Having previously raced at the Dakar Rally, the Silk Way Rally will not be the first time that José Luis has made history as the first ever Spaniard to take part in an iconic rally event in the SSV category.
“The Silk Way Rally is an amazing race with breathtaking landscapes and wonderful tracks. It’s a very long race, close to that of the Dakar, but a little less known – it’s great that I’m the first Spaniard to enter the SSV category, similar to when I raced at the Dakar in my Polaris RZR.”
Naturally the Spaniard is aiming for a top-spot at this year’s Silk Way Rally, but his focus remains on finishing the race.
“My main goal, obviously, is to finish the race. I’ll take it stage by stage, and once I’m close to the end in the Gobi Desert in China, I’ll see where we are and if there’s a chance of reaching a podium finish, then we’ll push even harder on the sand to make it happen.”
José Luis has been racing with Polaris vehicles for a number of years, and the Polaris RZR 1000 is his vehicle of choice to take on these intense challenges.
“Without doubt I trust the Polaris RZR for its reliability, which has proved itself to me year after year. I’ve always raced with Polaris: At the Dakar, the World Championship in 2018 and many other races, and the RZR has always helped me to get good results. I believe it’s the best vehicle for the sand and also when the terrain gets complicated.”
Outside of having huge talent, plus the determination and focus to succeed, what does it take to participate in events like the Silk Way Rally?
“I have a personal trainer and I train two or three times per week. We do four different trainings; strength, Meyer, Tabata and functional. I combine these workout routines with outdoor cycling and hiking in the mountains, which I adore. I’m also supervised by a nutritionist to ensure I’m always healthy and well-fed to face each challenge.”
Every racer will have a reason for entering such a demanding race. In José Luis’s case, he’s driven by the experience, the adventure and the thrill of the ride.
“My main motivation is to enjoy what is a very special race, seeing the astonishing countries, tracks and landscapes. Just being there, participating among the World’s top riders, is motivating. My favourite thing about racing could not be anything other than the adventure you get on each race, especially on rallies. I really like the feeling of not knowing where you will find yourself after every curve, change of grade, and dune. It’s a tough adventure, but very rewarding when you manage to finish it.”
The Silk Way Rally is an international off-road rally event that runs across ten days, taking pilots on an intense route from Russia to China. The ninth edition is due to start on 6th July, teams will meet in Irkutsk, a city in Russia close to the shores of Lake Baikal, and begin their journey across three countries; setting off in Eastern Siberia and going on to cross Mongolia from North to South, then reaching the famous dunes of the Gobi Desert and finally finishing up in Dunhuang, China on 16th July. Racers can expect the perfect blend of challenge and beauty; the 5,000-kilometre off-road route is set to be highly technical and gruelling, whilst the landscape will provide some beautiful and diverse scenery along the way.