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Casale & Leon Power to Fifth During Stage 1 at the Dakar

Casale & Leon Power to Fifth During Stage 1 at the Dakar

X-raid Yamaha Supported Team’s Ignacio Casale and Alvaro Leon stormed to fifth position in the T3 class on the opening stage of the 2023 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, as six of the YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype crews finished in the top 22.

After Saturday’s Prologue, Sunday marked the ‘real’ start of the 2023 Dakar as the YXZ1000R Prototypes SSVs took on a cruelling first stage in Yanbu. Leaving the Sea Camp, there was a 42km liaison to the start of the 367km special stage. The terrain was relentless, with massive dunes, soft sand, and rocky trails that really put the crews and machines to the test before a 193km liaison to return to the bivouac. The weather also played a part, with strong winds and rain affecting the later stages of the route.

Rising to the challenge, the Chilean duo of Dakar Legend Casale, a three-time winner in the quad class, and his co-driver Leon attacked the stage in style. Pushing hard throughout, they brought their machine home in fifth place, with a time of four hours, one minute and 40 seconds, just four minutes behind the stage winner.

Despite making only his first start in the T3 category at Dakar, Ricardo Porém (PRT), alongside co-driver Augusto Sanz (ARG), followed up their impressive performance in the Prologue to finish the tricky stage in tenth with a time of four hours, 17 minutes and 53 seconds. Just behind them were Ahmed Alkuwari Fahad (QAT) and Manuel Lucchese (ITA) in 11th, who ended the stage two minutes and 30 seconds behind their teammates with a time of four hours, 20 minutes and 23 seconds.

Dakar Rookie João Ferreira (PRT) and his experienced co-driver Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) put in another sensational drive, as they finished the gruelling opening stage in sixth provisionally before a 15-minute penalty dropped them down to 12th. Defending T3 Women’s Trophy holders Annett Fischer (DEU) & Annie Seel (SWE) produced a solid effort to finish in 17th after setting a time of four hours, 41 minutes and 17 seconds to end the stage as the leading all-female team in the class.

Dakar Legend Camelia Liparoti (ITA) and co-driver Xavier Blanco (ESP) were not far behind, as they finished in 19th, after recording a time of five hours, two minutes and five seconds, before also being hit with a 15-minute penalty which relegated them to 22nd. Sadly, the other all-female X-raid Yamaha Supported Team crew, Merce Marti (ESP) and Lisette Bakker (NLD), crashed before the second checkpoint. Despite their best efforts to repair the machine, they were forced to retire from the stage, and the damage to their SSV meant they could not continue in the rally.

Next for the remaining six crews is Stage 2, which sees the rally leave the Yanbu Sea Camp, which has been its base for the last few days, and travel to the picturesque Alula. Starting with a liaison of 159km to the start of the special, they will then take on 430km of dirt tracks, soft sand and stony trails before a short 1km liaison to the bivouac.

Camelia Liparoti

Yamaha Motor Europe ROV Racing Coordinator

“I am super proud today! The X-raid Yamaha Supported Team crews drove really well. It was a shame for Merce, as she has been forced to retire, but to have the other six YXZ1000R Turbo Prototypes in the top 22 is impressive when this is the first competitive outing for this machine. The stage today was very tough too, and a real technical test for the first day. There were rocky sections that were more like a Trials course and some of the highest and toughest dunes you can come across in a rally. The weather changed, too, as it started dry but rained towards the end, creating ruts and making it even harder. It was very hard today, and to come through it without any technical problems for the machines was incredible and shows just how good the new prototype is. I am already looking forward to Stage 2 and can’t wait to get back in the driving seat.”

Dakar Rally 2023

Stage 1 Results

5.  Ignacio Casale & Alvaro Leon 04:01:40 +00:04:00
10. Ricardo Porém & Augosto Sanz 04:17:53 +00:20:13
11. Ahmed Alkuwari Fahad & Manuel Lucchese 04:20:23 +00:22:43
12. João Ferreira & Filipe Palmeiro 04:23:23 +00:25:43
17. Annett Fischer & Annie Seel 04:41:17 +oo:43:37
22. Camelia Liparoti & Xavier Blanco 05:02:05 +01:04:25
41. Merce Marti & Lisette Bakker 28:59:33 +25:01:53