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Taklimakan Rally starts in Aksu, Xinjiang

  URUMQI, May 19 (Xinhua) -- 2019 Taklimakan Rally kicked off in Aksu, Xinjiang on Sunday night, which takes 228 competitors to complicated driving environments of southern Xinjiang, finishing in Hotan on June 2.

  It's going to be a tough time, which sets whole routes return to Taklimakan Desert, the world second largest drifting desert.

  More than 101 cars, 26 motorcycles set off about to complete 5,000km, including 2,500km from 9 special stages in 15-day high speed rally.

  Han Wei and Liao Min, the dominant duo of Geely Auto, will be the strongest championship contenders in T1 2WD Group.

  "There is no doubt that we would win the championship, and the key factor is to finish every stage as well as possible," Han Wei said.

  As for T1 4WD Group, BAIC Motor, which has won the past two team titles since 2017, will face strong challenge from Soaring Dragon, which has a steel beast MINI Cooper JCW from Dakar Rally's team X-Raid to race.

  For motorcycles, most of the highly regarded campaigners -- Zhao Hongyi, Zhang Min and defending champion Armand Monleon Hernandez -- are riding KTMs.

  "Racing in Taklimakan Rally is everybody's dream, especially when we bring it to southern Xinjiang again," He Jiandong, the vice-chairman of Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of China (CAMF) said.

  The qualifying race will be set for Monday morning in Aksu.