SLOVAK motorcycle racer Jaroslav Katriňák scored a historic victory in the first year of the Rallye Transorientale St. Petersburg – Beijing. Not only did he win the overall title for motorcycles, but he had the best overall times of all the participants in this extreme event covering over 10,700 kilometres.
“The race was extremely difficult, hundreds of demanding kilometres on the seat of a motorbike,” Katriňák told the SITA newswire. “All you have to do is look at a map to see how far it is from St. Petersburg to Beijing. I am happy to have managed all those kilometres and survived, yet alone won.”
Katriňák, 42, said he was shocked at the vastness of the areas of Russia through which the Rallye Transorientale went. Most routes in Russia went through military areas, where the participants met only soldiers and their families.
In Kazakhstan, Katriňák was surprised at the modern architecture and beauty of the capital, Astana. The route also ran through the Gobi Desert, with its huge sand dunes, and wound up at the Great Wall of China.
“When they called my name in announcing the results, a great applause resounded and I felt tears come to my eyes,” Katriňák said. “It was wonderful. In such moments, you can almost forget the 10,000 kilometres you have just travelled in 17 days on a motorbike.”