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“Rocket Rod” Rebounds for Stage 7 Podium in Morocco

“Rocket Rod” Rebounds for Stage 7 Podium in Morocco

Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team’s Rodney Faggotter recovered from the bad luck that had beset him on the previous two stages to return to the rostrum with a third-place finish on the penultimate special of the Moroccan Desert Challenge, while his teammate Pol Tarrés had another strong ride to fifth.

After the cancellation of Stage 6 at the Morocco Desert Challenge (MDC), Saturday’s seventh stage saw the Ténéré World Raid Team start from the bivouac in M’hamid and take on a 325km special consisting of fast, dusty trails, rocky sections and the punishing dunes of Erg Ouzina and Erg Znaigui before arriving at the bivouac in Merzouga. Once again, temperatures approached fifty degrees Celsius in the African desert and high winds, combined with sand and dust, made navigation tricky for all the competitors.

Faggotter’s run of bad luck finally came to an end on Saturday, after he had lost time due to a faulty waypoint on Stage 4 and then was hit by a stray rock during the fifth stage that saw him having to carry out running repairs and drop down to fourth in the general classification. The Australian bounced back on Saturday to make the most of the extra power of his Ténéré 700 World Raid to blast his way through the dunes and secure his third podium of the rally with a time of three hours, 31 minutes and nine seconds, just 12 minutes and 42 seconds behind the winner of the special.

His teammate Tarrés’ run of three consecutive podiums, which saw him move up to third in the overall standings, ended during Stage 7 as the Andorran made a slight navigational error due to the challenging conditions. In only his second season racing in Rally Raid, the 29-year-old belied his lack of experience to recover superbly, minimising the time lost, and finished the stage in three hours, 34 minutes and sixteen seconds, only missing out on his fifth podium of the 2023 MDC by just over three minutes.

The excellent recovery of Tarrés meant he remains third in the general classification, with an overall time of 22 hours, 16 minutes and 26 seconds, while his teammate Faggotter is 34 minutes and 29 seconds further back in fourth, plus the pairing is still first and second in the Big Bike category (600cc and above).

The final stage of the 2023 MDC is the third loop stage of the rally, with the route featuring fast tracks over a sloping plateau where navigation will be vital before taking on over 30km of the tricky dunes of Erg Chebbi, the nature of which could provide a sting in the tail of the rally for the unprepared.

Stage 7 Results

General Classification After Stage 7

Rodney Faggotter – P3 (3hr 31m 09s)

Ténéré World Raid Team

“I felt good today! There was a lot of dust and rocks for the first 50 to 80km, which made it pretty dangerous, but I just got in the zone. Everything was going well. The Ténéré 700 World Raid was awesome; honestly, I could not have asked for more. I started ninth, passed four or five riders on track, and ended up third for the day, so I was flying, and it felt good. We have had a good week, the bikes have been unreal, and their reliability has been flawless, plus we haven’t had one crash, so we have to keep the momentum going and get through the final 145km on Sunday.”

Pol Tarrés – P3 (3hr 34m 16s)

Ténéré World Raid Team

“It was another good day! I was fast, and the Ténéré 700 World Raid was amazing. I made a minor navigation error that lost me over three minutes, which cost me third place today. It was my first big mistake during the rally, but I managed to recover and make up time, so I am pleased with how I responded. After my error, I pushed and enjoyed riding. Obviously, this is a rally, and there are many good riders here, so we can’t always be on the podium, but we were close anyway. Today was about riding smartly, minimising the time lost due to my mistake, and ensuring we finished strongly. I am looking forward to the last stage, as it features a lot of dunes which I love, but I am just focused on reaching the finish line.”

Marc Bourgeois

Ténéré World Raid Team – Team Manager

“I am delighted with both riders today. The team have both been so consistent this week; honestly, if it were not for some bad luck, the results would have been even better. All of our hard work is paying off, the Ténéré 700 World Raid has been faultless, and Rodney and Pol have shown just how good they are. Pol’s navigational training he did over the winter is showing, and yes, he made a small mistake today, but it was very easy to do. Most importantly, he did not panic and managed to recover, minimising the time lost. The reliability and performance of the bikes have been incredible; we have had to do nothing to them since we arrived, apart from a quick clean and service every night. The atmosphere in the team has been great all rally, and we need to stay focused and ensure we finish tomorrow’s short final stage around the dunes of Merzouga, as anything can still happen.”

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