Roaring engines, flying dust in Karamay

By Liu Hui in Karamay, Xinjiang | | 2017-09-24 23:51

Roaring engines, flying dust in Karamay

Quad bike riders compete during the first round of the 2017 China All-Terrain Vehicles Championship at Karamay's forest park in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Sept 23, 2017. [Photo by Yu Jie/For]

Karamay, Xinjiang – It was a scene of roaring engines and daring speed, as well as thick clouds of dust this weekend, as some of the most talented riders from across China arrived for the 2017 China All-Terrain Vehicles Championship.

To uphold the spirit of sportsmanship and showcase Karamay's stunning natural beauty, the race brought 34 vehicle teams, consisting of more than 100 ATV and utility terrain vehicle (UTV) enthusiasts, who headed to this northwestern oil city to compete for the nation's most prestigious ATV prizes.

In the days prior to the competition, racing participants, ages 10 to 45, engaged in challenging off-road and overland driving to help them get ready for the race. Before the final race on Sunday afternoon, they competed in two rounds.

Teams are divided into seven groups based on skill level, age, gender or type of racing vehicle. The competitiveness and popularity of the event is further highlighted by the fact the all-female ATV quad racers have become an independent group. In the past, only a few women could be added to a male group, and they might not have many opportunities to express themselves.

"It was very difficult at first, being a female in a field traditionally dominated by men. Thanks to my husband, who is also a racing rider, I gradually shifted my fear to deep love," said Sun Xiaoxia, a young female contestant.

Sun also said she was excited about the performance of the female group, even though there's still room for improvement.

It was Karamay's second ATV Championship since 2016. The forest park was chosen again for the racing event because the track designers there previously integrated classic layouts, short ATV tracks and mile ovals.

The area features high rocky slopes, low-lying land, deep waters and tricky horseshoe turns with a desert flair. The racing park includes a 1.6-kilometer UTV circuit, a 1.1-km sporting ATV circuit and a 0.9-km universal ATV circuit, according to the event organizers.

The championship is a level-A national competition and functions as a platform to promote and expand China's ATV industry.

"ATV-style quad bikes are multi-purpose vehicles not only designed as a form of transport for road use, but also can be used for towing large loads or tearing through dirt and dunes," said Ni Yilin, the first deputy secretary-general of the China All-Terrain Vehicles Alliance (CATVA), in an interview with China Daily website.

Increasing use of ATVs for agriculture, travel, and search and recovery operations will favor the industry growth, he added.

The agriculture application of ATVs was valued at over $800 million in 2015, due to the vehicles' rising adoption as substitutes for heavy equipment, according to a 2016 research report by US-based Global Market Insights, Inc.

The Chinese ATV industry has fallen behind some of the world's leading off-road vehicles manufacturers, such as Canada's Bombardier and US-based Polaris, for several decades. But China could find its niche in the world market today thanks to swift technology innovation and adoption in an open economy, explained Yang Guangyu, deputy director of the Administrative Centre of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports (ACAMS) of the State Sports General Administration of China.

US ATV market share was more than $2.5 billion for 2015, while China's ATV market size accounted for more than 35 percent of Asia Pacific revenue, as said by the report.

The ATV competition was co-hosted by the China Automotive Technology & Research Center of CATVA, the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of China and the Karamay government.

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