The communication service of the International Project Silk Way Rally has been participating in the organization of the Russian Rally-Raid Championship rounds for several years now.
The importance of high-quality communications at sports events cannot be overestimated — the lives and health of competitors literally depend on it. The work of officials and emergency services is impossible without reliable telecommunications equipment, and the media representatives accredited to cover the competitions will not be able to transmit information.
Telecommunication services at the International Silk Way Rally Marathon are provided by Tsenter Bronetekhniki LLC Research and Development Company, which is capable of deploying communication infrastructure even in the most remote and difficult to cover places. Specialists of Tsenter Bronetekhniki (which is translated as Armored Equipment Center) also participate in organizing rounds of the Russian Rally-Raid Championship, which allows not only to support the organizers and competitors with an impeccable level of service, but also to gain new experience and test the most modern solutions. Like racing vehicles, communication means and methods of providing it are developing every year.
One of these rounds was the Baja Russia Northern Forest, which took place from February 8 to February 11, 2024. This event was held along a compact circle route (hence the name is “baja”) and it is significantly shorter than the Silk Way Rally distance, however, it also has certain difficulties. In 2024, the Baja route became longer than last year, and it was laid out in dense lowland forest. An additional challenge for the communication service was the large amount of snow, which complicated access to fixed towers of telecommunications equipment for the positioning of repeaters.
In 2024, the Tsenter Bronetekhniki prepared four repeaters for the Baja Russia Northern Forest — one more than in 2023. Moreover, if previously the antennas were placed at a height of 35 meters, this year they were raised twice as high — up to 70 meters, and industrial climbers were involved in their installation.
Preparing for the Baja, the Tsenter Bronetekhniki specialists, after an examination by the Main Radio Frequency Center, received permission to use VHF frequencies. One of the engineers' main challenges was to provide seamless, unnoticeable switching between repeaters when covering a large area, much like how a cellular network subscriber maintains a connection while moving from one base station to another.
Radio communication, compared to cellular one, provides a more efficient exchange of information and allows to instantly transmit a message to all subscribers. At the same time, in case of a global failure, a backup network has been prepared — based on cellular communication. It is a little less reliable and prone to delays, but is quite effective as a backup solution.
Baja Russia Northern Forest was ultimately a great success (28 crews in four categories of sports vehicles started at the first round of the Russian Rally-Raid Championship, and the overall winners of Baja are Boris Gadasin and Dmitry Kozhukhov in the G-Force T-3GF), the communication infrastructure worked flawlessly, and there was no need to resort to backup methods of coverage. Now the Tsenter Bronetekhniki specialists are preparing for the main event of the coming summer — the Silk Way Rally Marathon, where the coverage area will be much larger.
To ensure communications at these events, when crews travel over open and rough terrain, as well as in dunes, other solutions are used. Thus, special airplanes (as they are called “relay aircraft”) act as repeaters at the Silk Way Rally, they fly at altitudes of about 3,000 meters and provide communication transmission within a radius of up to 200 kilometers.
Competitors of the 14th edition of the rally marathon will have a very diverse route, it will include various climatic zones — from permafrost to hot deserts, as well as mountainous areas, and therefore high-quality communications will be needed more than ever.