More than 100 teams are tackling some of the world's least hospitable landscapes as they compete in motorsport's most gruelling off-road race. The 2016 Silk Way Rally started on 8 July in Moscow and will end in Beijing on 24 July. By the time they arrive in Tiananmen Square, competitors will have travelled 6,695 miles (10,774km) across harsh deserts, shifting sand dunes, endless steppes and treacherous mountain passes.

Silk Way rally 2016
Silk Way rally 2016

The race is even longer than the notorious Dakar Rally, and the route across little-known terrain presents a real challenge to drivers. AFP photographer Patrick Baz is following the rally, documenting the harsh landscapes and the hardships faced by drivers along the route from Europe through central Asia to the Far East.

Silk Way rally 2016
8 July 2016: Saudi driver Yazeed Mohamed al-Rajhi gestures from his Mini prior to the departure of the Silk Way rally from Moscow's Red SquarePatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
11 July 2016: Stephane Peterhansel and co-pilot Jean-Paul Cottret race their Mini near the Russian town of ChelyabinskPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
11 July 2016: Spectators watch competitors near Chelyabinsk in RussiaPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
13 July 2016: Jean-Luc Butez and co-pilot Patrie Laplanche leave Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, at sunset to start the fifth stage of the Silk Way rallyPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
13 July 2016: Hai Wang and co-pilot Dajun Wu race near the town of Karaganda in KazakhstanPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
14 July 2016: Men dressed in Kazakh national costume watch the departure of the sixth stage of the Silk Way rally near the city of BalkhashPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
14 July 2016: Wei Han and co-pilot Jean-Pierre Garcin race during the sixth stage of the Silk Way rally near the city of Balkhash in south-eastern KazakhstanPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
14 July 2016: Yazeed Mohamed al-Rahji and co-pilot Timo Gottschalk race along a dried-up lake near the city of BalkhashPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
14 July 2016: An aerial view of the area around Balkhash lake in KazakhstanPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
14 July 2016: An aerial view of a dried-up salt lake near Balkhash lake in KazakhstanPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
14 July 2016: An aerial view of a village near Balkhash lake in KazakhstanPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
15 July 2016: Laurent Fouquet and co-pilot Frank Maldonado race near Bartogai lake, on the outskirts of Almaty in KazakhstanPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
15 July 2016: A Kazakh shepherd waves to Aidyn Rakhimbayev and co-pilot Anton Nikolaev during the seventh stage of the Silk Way rally, before crossing into ChinaPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
18 July 2016: The Chinese city of Urumqi in north-western China's Xinjiang at duskPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
18 July 2016: Hundreds of wind turbines are seen in the Turfan Depression in China's northwestern Xinjiang regionPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
18 July 2016: An aerial view of the Gobi Desert in north-western ChinaPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
18 July 2016: Airat Mardeev and co-driver Aydar Belyaev compete in the Gobi Desert during the ninth stage of the Silk Way rallyPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
18 July 2016: An aerial view of the Bogda Shan valley in north-western ChinaPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
18 July 2016: An aerial view of the Bogda Shan river bed in north-western ChinaPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
18 July 2016: Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena trail teammates Cyril Despres and co-driver David Castera as they compete in the Gobi DesertPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
18 July 2016: Trails of dust appear in the Gobi Desert as drivers compete during the ninth stagePatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
20 July 2016: A sand storm hits the Silk Way rally camp near the Chinese city of Dunhuang. The 11th stage was cancelled due to severe weather conditionsPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
20 July 2016: Cyril Despres covers his face during a stand storm at the Silk Way rally camp near the Chinese city of DunhuangPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: Yazeed Mohamed al-Rahji and co-pilot Timo Gottchalk trail teammates driver Vladimir Vasilyev and co-pilot Konstantin Zhiltsov past an oasis as they compete in the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia during the 12th stagePatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: An aerial view of farming areas in the Chinese village of Jinta near the city of JiayuguanPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: An aerial view of a helicopter flying over an oasis in Inner Mongolia's Gobi DesertPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: An aerial view of a flock of sheep in Inner Mongolia's Gobi DesertPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: An aerial view of Inner Mongolia's Gobi DesertPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: An aerial view of Inner Mongolia's Gobi DesertPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: An aerial view of a farming area in the Chinese village of Jinta near the city of JiayuguanPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: Rally support vehicles are seen behind the town of Alashan in Inner Mongolia's Gobi DesertPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
21 July 2016: Women dressed in national costume check pictures on their smartphones as they welcome competitors to the town of Alashan in Inner Mongolia at the end of the 12th stagePatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
22 July 2016: Aidyn Rakhimbayev and co-pilot Anton Nikolaev compete in the desert of Inner Mongolia, ending the 13th stagePatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
22 July 2016: Wein Han and co-pilot Jean-Pierre Garcin compete in Inner Mongolia's Gobi desert, during the 13th stage of the Silk Way rallyPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
22 July 2016: Stephane Peterhansel and co-pilot Jean-Paul Cottret compete in Inner Mongolia's Gobi desert, during the 13th stage of the Silk Way rallyPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
22 July 2016: An aerial view of homes in the town of Wuhai, between the Gobi and Ordos desertsPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
22 July 2016: An ostrich stands on a road in the town of Wuhai, between the Gobi and Ordos desertsPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
22 July 2016: Kamaz trucks team Eduard Nikoalev and copilots Evgeni Iacovlev and Valdimir Rybakov compete in Inner Mongolia's Gobi desertPatrick Baz/AFP
Silk Way rally 2016
22 July 2016: Hostesses take pictures in the Gobi desert during a break at the Silk Way rally camp near the town of WuhaiPatrick Baz/AFP