Upon release of the 2013 Dakar acceptance letters, Llewelyn was one of the unlucky few to be refused a place in the next edition of the race. Despite his considerable off road riding and racing experience the organisers felt that the level of rally raid experience Llewelyn had was not sufficient to compete in the Dakar safely. Left with nothing to aim for until next year Llewelyn quickly began to look for another event to compete in that would gain him the experience A.S.O required.
The Taklimakan rally is one of Asia’s biggest rally raid events, despite its unknown status in the west. Set in the world’s second largest shifting sand desert, in the north west corner of China. The Taklimakan desert is the perfect setting for a rally that pays homage to the Dakar rally of Africa, with many open desert stages and endless sand. The rally will cover 4000km’s over eight racing days, with two scheduled rest days.
Llewelyn is set to ride as a guest on a local race team, the Ba Yi Steel and Iron Works Team from Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang province.
Llewelyn - “I can’t believe that this has managed to happen, everything has been very touch and go on whether we could pull this off. It was only lunch time today that we managed to secure the visa to get into China. There were some problems along the way, Xinjiang is a restricted area so they wanted a lot of information and invitations before they’d grant me the visa.
It’s incredibly exciting for me. Not only is it my first rally raid, but there are some many hurdles to overcome still. The language barrier is the first, already communication has been difficult with my lack of language skills. There is virtually no information about the race available, as far as we can tell I am the first person to come from outside China to compete. A handful of Europeans have raced it, but they have always been from inside the country. Information about anything is scarce so unlike many of the other races you can do, everything is new.
In contrast to most of the worlds desert races, the Taklimakan is a ‘cold’ desert as well, temperatures can change a lot, especially as it’s heading into autumn. In the winter it regularly drops below zero during the day, so I’m expecting the nights to be very cold and the days to be really warm. It’s a great opportunity for me however and I’m unbelievably excited. I still don’t believe that I have managed to get all the relevant papers together in just five weeks, I can’t wait to get my leg over a bike now.”
Llewelyn will fly out Friday, September 7, from Gatwick and the race will begin on the 15th September and finish on the 25th.