Yamaha Riders Gear Up For A Thrilling Second Week At Dakar Rally
Enjoying a stellar first week of competition at this year's Dakar Rally, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team riders remain focused on their ultimate goal of making history for Yamaha in this 40th edition of the prestigious event. With Adrien Van Beveren winning a stage and currently placed second overall and Xavier de Soultrait also within striking distance to the top of the leader board, the team enter the second week of racing in South America knowing they have what it takes to battle for the coveted final victory.
Getting some well-deserved down time during the rest day in La Paz, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team riders have had the chance to assess their progress so far and analyse their plans for the second week, which starts tomorrow. More than happy with the performance and reliability of their WR450F Rally machines in this opening part of the race, the rest day of La Paz offered team mechanics the chance to thoroughly inspect and prepare the four bikes ahead of a further 5,200km of racing.
Leading the team's efforts in this year's event has been Adrien Van Beveren. Winning a stage and holding on to the provisional overall lead for three consecutive days, the Frenchman has his eyes set on continuing his solid performance. Less than two minutes behind the provisional overall leader with eight more long stages to go, Adrien will settle for nothing less than the top spot of the final podium in Argentina.
Receiving a two-minute penalty by race organisers due to slightly surpassing the speed limit in a part of the timed special, Xavier de Soultrait is currently seventh in the provisional overall standings. Showcasing acute speed and the ability to navigate even in the most demanding of conditions, the Frenchman knows he has what it takes to battle for a potential podium result in Córdoba.
One of the most consistent racers in this year's event, Rodney Faggotter is confident of an equally good second part of the race in Bolivia and Argentina. Feeling great aboard the WR450F Rally machine, the Aussie will look to get closer to the top 10 in the overall standings.
Successfully battling through a challenging stage four, Franco Caimi is still in the game and looking towards the finish in Córdoba. Focused on some good individual stage results, the Argentinean will also look to provide assistance to his Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team partners whenever necessary.
Confirming the brand's status as a dominant force in the Quad category, Yamaha riders continue to occupy the first seven spots in the class' provisional standings. With Ignacio Casale currently leading the overall standings by an impressive 41 minutes, there are 12 Yamaha powered riders inside the top 15.
Featuring two marathon stages and another 5,200km through the mountains of Bolivia and the trails of Argentina, the coming week will be demanding for all competitors. The race continues tomorrow with the opening part of the first two-day-long marathon stage taking racers from La Paz to Uyuni.
Adrien Van Beveren - Yamalube Yamaha Official Team #4
"I had a really great first week of racing here in South America. While trying to be fast, there were lots of times I had to open the tracks and I think I did quite well. I've worked a lot to improve my navigation skills and it all pays off now. We've made some great progress this year and winning stage four also felt great. It's good that we had some time to relax here in La Paz and I'm ready to enter the second week of racing. My strategy for the coming week remains the same. If I know I can push, I will attack as much as I can and when I know I need to navigate I'll do it. I'm feeling very confident now on the bike and this is important for the next stages. These last two stages were exhausting, but physically I am feeling great. I think all the ingredients are there for me to battle for the final victory and I'll do my best to make it happen. We're less than two minutes behind the overall lead now and the main goal is to be first when we reach Córdoba."
Xavier de Soultrait - Yamalube Yamaha Official Team #23
"We had a great first week of racing and now my focus is on the next stages. We already got some great results and proved that our bikes are able to win stages. For me the real race starts now. Getting a two-minute penalty last night due to excessive speed inside a timed special, I am now seventh in the overall but that doesn't change things. I am still in the game for the top and I will do my best to get there. The harder part of the race in terms of navigation lies ahead and I feel confident going into the second week. We have two marathon stages and I'm really counting on those to make up some good time. I couldn't have thought of a better way to start this event. I'm in a great position now to attack. My bike is in perfect shape also, so I enter the second week in my best possible condition."
Rodney Faggotter - Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team #44
"We had our first good sleep after many days last night and it felt great. Changing from the 30+ degrees of Peru to the cold here in Bolivia was also difficult for our bodies. Everything is going good for me so far. I'm in good shape and my bike is running great. I'm looking forward to the second week of racing. There's still a long way to go and we'll have two important marathon stages in the next couple of days. My plan is to remain consistent and try to gain as many spots in the overall as possible. I am in the best shape I could be and that gives me the motivation to keep working hard this coming week."
Franco Caimi - Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team #7
"It's really good we had some time in La Paz to relax and regroup for the coming week. Together with letting our bodies relax a bit, we had the chance to sit down with my team and make our plans for the coming week of racing. Everything is going well for us. This second part of the race is surely going to be tough so we have to remain focused on our goal to bring Yamaha as high as possible in the overall standings. After what happened to me two days ago, my strategy is a little bit different now. I will try to do my best for some good individual results in the coming stages, but part of my goal now is to also help my teammates if and when they might need assistance. We have a great spirit and we will all give our best to bring Yamaha on top this year."
Alexandre Kowalski - Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Director
"Our main goal was to be part of the game for the first spots in the overall and we're all more than happy we made it happen. We might have had a long and exhausting week of racing, but for us somehow the race starts now. After many racing kilometres in extremely difficult conditions, all four of our riders are still in the race to the finish. Adrien and Xavier are doing great so far and they are both capable of battling for the victory. Rodney has impressed us once again with his consistency and as for Franco, he was among the frontrunners in the first stages and after his crash he will keep battling for some good stage results. This event is special for us for one more reason and that's because we demonstrated the abilities of the WR450F Rally in truly tough conditions. With five consecutive stages in the deep sandy dunes and the warm temperatures of Peru, we proved our bike is both highly competitive and super reliable. There is still a long way to go and we believe navigation will be very tricky in this second part of the race. Our riders will have to be fast and also take care of themselves and their bikes. We have two marathon stages coming up and they will both be crucial for the final outcome. We want to stay close as possible to the top spots in the overall with Adrien and Xavier, so that they can both have a chance to deliver Yamaha the final victory in Córdoba."
Dakar Rally 2018 - Provisional Overall Classification [Rest Day]
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 16:33:20
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 16:35:17, +01:57
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 16:37:10, +03:50
4. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 16:42:53, +09:33
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 16:42:59, +09:39
6. Antoine Meo (FRA), KTM, 16:44:02, +10:42
7. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 16:44:44, +11:24
18. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 17:38:05, +01:04:45
25. Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 18:02:04, +01:28:44
35. Franco Caimi (ARG), Yamaha, 19:31:03, +02:57:43
Race Schedule - Dakar Rally 2018
Stage 1 | Jan 6 | Lima to Pisco | SS: 31km | Total: 272km
Stage 2 | Jan 7 | Pisco to Pisco | SS: 267km | Total: 278km
Stage 3 | Jan 8 | Pisco to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 295km | Total: 501km
Stage 4 | Jan 9 | San Juan de Marcona to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 330km | Total: 444km
Stage 5 | Jan 10 | San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa | SS: 264km | Total: 770km
Stage 6 | Jan 11 | Arequipa to La Paz | SS: 313km | Total: 758km
Rest Day | Jan 12
Stage 7 | Jan 13 | La Paz to Uyuni | SS: 425km | Total: 726km
Stage 8 | Jan 14 | Uyuni to Tupiza | SS: 498km | Total: 584km
Stage 9 | Jan 15 | Tupiza to Salta | SS: 242km | Total: 754km
Stage 10 | Jan 16 | Salta to Belén| SS: 372km | Total: 795km
Stage 11 | Jan 17 | Belén to Fiambalá | SS: 280km | Total: 484km
Stage 12 | Jan 18 | Fiambalá to San Juan | SS: 375km | Total: 722km
Stage 13 | Jan 19 | San Juan to Córdoba | SS: 423km | Total: 904km
Stage 14 | Jan 20 | Córdoba to Córdoba | SS: 119km | Total: 284km
You may find all the images from the 2018 Dakar Rally here.