The 2023 TransAnatolia saw competitors ride over 2,300km in seven days as they traversed from the east to the west coast of Turkey, starting at the Black Sea port of Samsun before ending in Izmir on the Aegean Sea. After the first six days, Tarrés had opened up an advantage of 12 minutes and 14 seconds at the head of the overall general classification over Botturi in second, with a four-minute and 22-second buffer to the rider in third.
The duo were on the verge of re-writing the record books as they aimed to be the first riders on a twin-cylinder adventure bike competing in the B2 class to win the rally against the 450cc prototypes in the B1 category, but there was all still to play for on the final day.
Saturday’s schedule involved a 18.22km liaison from the bivouac in Simav to the beginning of the 54.94km 14th stage on the Raiders Road. The riders then had a long 198.40km liaison to the start of the final 39.69km special of the rally before a 22.39km liaison to the official podium ceremony.
Having taken the lead in the general classification on Day 3, Tarrés had the unenviable task of leading out the day's first special, as he has on many of the stages during the event. Despite the pressure, the 29-year-old showed no nerves and managed to maintain a good pace without taking any unnecessary risks to finish the stage in fifth. While it was the first time he had not been on the overall stage podium during the rally, his time of 53 minutes and 53 seconds meant he only conceded two minutes and 24 seconds to the winner of the special.
After a long liaison, Tarrés went into stage 15, knowing precisely what he had to do to win his maiden rally. The Andorran rode superbly, once again ensuring he made zero errors to record another fifth-place finish with a time of 40 minutes and 29 seconds, conceding just one minute and 22 seconds to the stage winner.
This meant that Tarrés, who was not 100% fit coming into the TransAnatolia after suffering a leg injury, had achieved his dream of winning a rally at only the fifth attempt in his fledgeling career. His combined time of 16 hours, 10 minutes, and 10 seconds saw him finish with an 11-minute and seven-second advantage over his teammate in second. Tarrés secured the overall victory in impressive style on his GYRT-kitted Ténéré 700 World Rally, with two special stage victories and a further nine podiums to his name, leaving no doubt he is one to watch in the world of rally raid.
Botturi, competing in his first international rally of 2023, came into the final day after mounting an impressive comeback on Friday. Comfortably in second after the fourth day in the general classification, a crash on day five saw his gap over the rider in third reduced to just 20 seconds. Despite suffering pain in his shoulder, the Italian was determined to secure second for the team. On day six, he showed his fighting spirit to win his first stage of the rally and extend the lead over his nearest rival to four minutes and 22 seconds with just two stages to go.
Heading into Saturday with the goal of maintaining the gap to the rider in third, the 49-year-old used all of his experience to finish the first special of the day in fourth, with a time of 53 minutes and 26 seconds. This left him with a two-minute and 25-second advantage over the rider in third and only the 36.59km final stage left.
Botturi, the winner of the 2014 edition of the TransAnatolia, controlled the final stage brilliantly and powered to his sixth podium of the rally in third, just 42 seconds behind the winner, to ensure a dramatic end to the day and a momentous 1-2 for Yamaha and the team in the overall general classification. His final combined time was 16 hours, 21 minutes and 17 seconds, which saw him end the event one minute and 43 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
The Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team’s epic 1-2 in Turkey has been the perfect preparation for the next rally on their agenda, the 2023 Africa Eco Race, which retraces the original routes of the Paris-Dakar in the 1970s and takes place between the 30th of December 2023 – 14th of January 2024.