Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Successfully Ends Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016
The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team and its leading rider Hélder Rodrigues completed the first test, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, this week in preparation for a new Dakar season. Rodrigues crossed the last stage's finish line in fifth position aboard his Yamaha WR450F Rally and will return home from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the fond memories of his first stage victory of the season, achieved two days earlier.
Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Hélder Rodrigues ended the opening race of the 2016 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship with solid results. The competition took him from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the Liwa Desert, which is known for its stunning landscapes and endless sand dunes.
The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team was challenged by tough conditions over the past six-day race and 1500-kilometer journey (932 miles) in the Persian Gulf. However, the WR450F Rally bike proved its full potential in the scorching heat and even withstood sand storms. Rodrigues also demonstrated all his abilities on the fast sand routes in the dunes, where his talent for blind riding technical stages shone. The Portuguese rider once again confirmed his status as one of the best rally riders in the world when he rode his WR450F Rally to a sublime victory on day three.
Today, on the fifth and last stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Rodrigues ended fifth in the stage rankings. He placed amongst the top eight riders on nearly every stage but unfortunately the penalties he was subjected to on Monday saw him finish 26th in the overall standings. The rider and the team will take onboard their learnings from this pre-Dakar 2017 test and can't wait to push to the fullest while they fiercely challenge their competitors for a podium result at the next rally round.
The next item on the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's calendar is already quite close. The Sealine Cross Country Rally, the second official race of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship, will take place on Monday April 18th, in Doha, Qatar. There, Hélder Rodrigues will compete alongside 2015 Dakar rookie teammate and recent winner of the Enduropale du Touquet Pas-de-Calais, Adrien Van Beveren, who will also be riding on the Yamaha WR450F Rally.
Hélder Rodrigues, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider
"We have just completed the first rally-raid of this season and it's a great satisfaction to arrive at the finish line with my WR450F Rally in such a good shape. Today's last stage was very fast and was good for learning more about dune-riding because of its alternating sandy routes and hard grounds. We crossed beautiful landscapes but also suffered a little bit from the heat. It was important for the team to participate in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as we had the opportunity to re-start working on the bike's development in such a peculiar landscape. It was also the season kick-off for me. We will move forward as the season goes along in order to be prepared for the 2017 Dakar Rally. I'm already focusing on the upcoming race in Qatar in ten days."
José Leloir, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team manager
"We are pleased to have successfully ended this first and very demanding race. It was difficult enough for a pre-dakar test, especially due to the heat and the swaying routes through dunes. We wanted to stay careful as a few riders fell off their bikes on some stages. It was a good trial run for the team; the mechanics did a great job all week long. We go back home with a stage win and that is very important as it kicks off the season very positively. We will keep it in mind, as we want to move forward to deliver more of these strong performances. We ran the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with Hélder Rodrigues as our only official rider but we will move on to the Sealine Cross Country Rally in Qatar next week with junior rider Adrien Van Beveren joining the team, who took some rest after a busy but successful first part of the season."
Hélder Rodrigues' Race Ranking Summary (by stage):
Prologue: 5th position
Stage 1: 4th position
Stage 2: 31st position
Stage 3: 1st position
Stage 4: 8th position
Stage 5: 5th position
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016 - Leg 5 - Provisional Stage Classification
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 03:48:51, +00:00:01
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 02:50:26, +00:02:09
3. Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, 02:54:25, +00:03:59
4. Pierre Alexandre Renet (FRA), Husqvarana, +03:00:10, +00:05:45
5. Hélder Rodrigues (POR), Yamaha, 03:01:06, +00:12:49
6. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHL), KTM, 03:01:34, +13:17:00
7. Mohammed Al Balooshi (ARE), KTM, 03:03:15, +00:14:58
8. Jakub Piatek (POL), KTM, 03:18:16, +00:29:59
9. David Thomas (RSA), Husqvarna, 03:20:58, 00:32:41
10. Khalid Al Falasi (ARE), Honda, 03:20:58, 00:32:41
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016 - Provisional Overall Classification after Leg 5
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 18:18:24
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 18:20:35, +00:02:11
3. Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, 18:21:47, +00:03:23
4. Mohammed Al Balooshi (ARE), KTM, 18:56:38, +00:38:14
5. Pierre Alexandre Renet (FRA), Husqvarana, +18:57:02, +00:38:38
6. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 19:19:25, +01:01:01
7. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHL), KTM, 19:19:28, +01:01:04
8. Jakub Piatek (POL), KTM, 19:27:57, +01:09:33
9. David Mc Bride (GBR), KTM, 19:37:17, +01:18:53
10. David Thomas (RSA), Husqvarna, 20:51:22, 02:32:58
26. Hélder Rodrigues (POR), Yamaha, 37:11:12, +18:52:48
Click HERE for more imagery of Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016.