Al Attiyah and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel finished second in the event last season - the best ever finish on the event for a Toyota and Overdrive Racing. The ace Qatari driver had also finished second overall back in 2010 with German navigator Timo Gottschalk.
Al Attiyah has been in impressive form so far this season and leads the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies following wins in Qatar and Kazakhstan. He faces 52 rivals in the car category in central Asia.
Al Attiyah upbeat
Al Attiyah, who is running under the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa banner at the Silk Way Rally sounded upbeat about his prospects.
"This is one event that I really want to win and, hopefully, this will be my year. I've taken part in six rallies so far this season and won all six, including the win at Rally Kazakhstan at the start of June. This is a long and demanding rally and the stages will be a challenge for everyone," Al Attiyah said.
Al Rajhi confident
Al Rajhi was second overall in 2016 and the winner of the event in 2018 before joining Overdrive Racing. On that occasion the Riyadh driver teamed up with German navigator Timo Gottschalk when the event started in Astrakhan and finished in Moscow.
This year he is working with Dirk von Zitzewitz with whom he finished second in Qatar and eighth overall in Kazakhstan earlier in the season.
The year's Silk Way Rally is a candidate race for possible future inclusion in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The ninth edition of the event will start from Speransky Square in Irkutsk, Siberia, on Saturday at 6pm local time.
Competitive action, totalling 2,593.15km, kicks off with the short opening stage through the Russian ‘Taiga' forest between Irkutsk and Baykalsk on July 7.
The event finishes in Dunhuang on July 16.