The second stage of the TDC was a 360km special that featured the riders taking on fast stretches of tarmac and gravel roads, as well as flowing dusty trails, which proved to be a real challenge with several bikes suffering from mechanical issues due to the extreme heat and sandy terrain. Having performed superbly in the opening 60km Prologue against the more specialized 450cc machines, the team were confident of building on their success on the second day with the all-new production Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid bikes. In Rally Raid, though, anything is possible, and the team experienced both the joys and frustration the sport can bring during an eventful Friday.
After a 120km liaison to the start of the stage, Botturi began from third but encountered a navigational issue after 10km that saw him lose over 20 minutes. Not panicking, the 46-year-old used all his experience to stay calm, double back and find the route again before showing exactly what he is capable of. Back on track, the Italian pushed hard for the rest of the stage and by the fuel stop, was up to sixth place. Heading out after the break riding alongside his teammate, Botturi continued to charge through the field and claw back time on the leaders before finishing in second. He completed the stage in 4h 56’ 06”, just six minutes behind the winner and moved up one place to second in the overall classification with a time of 5h 38’ 09”, trailing the leader by eight minutes and 51 seconds.
Tarres was in a buoyant mood in the morning after finding out he had been promoted one place in the prologue result to ninth and was looking forward to continuing his maiden rally experience on the second day. The Spaniard enjoyed a lightning start and was involved in the battle for the stage victory right from the beginning. He led at the first waypoint, and when he arrived at the service point, he was in second. Setting out after the fuel stop with his teammate, both Yamaha riders were setting a scorching pace and battling in the podium positions before disaster struck. A small crash forced Torres to have to stop to carry out some minor repairs to his bike, which, when combined with some navigational errors, resulted in him losing over an hour.
After remounting, he showed incredible spirit to claw back time and end the stage in a respectable 19th. Sore from his crash - but otherwise okay - and frustrated after such a good start, the 26-year-old aims to bounce back in Stage 3 to make up the lost time. He completed Friday’s stage in 6h 11’ 31”, 1 hour and 21 minutes behind the winner, and he is now 17th in the overall classification, with a gap of 1 hour and 30 minutes to the top.
The Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team, in partnership with Riders for Health, are back in action on Sunday with Stage 3, a 350km special through the gruelling desert terrain that starts and finishes at the Bivouac in Matous.