The Tunisia Desert Challenge (TDC) consists of eight stages in total, with Stage 1 a 60km Prologue made up of fast sand dunes and dusty trails. A Prologue is a shorter stage than the rest to allow for a shakedown of the bikes with times counting towards the overall standing, plus it also decides the order in which the riders will start Stage 2. The winner gets to choose his starting position, while the rest of the riders set off according to where they finished.
The new Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid made its racing debut in style, with both riders praising the bike's ability over the tricky terrain. Alessandro Botturi and Pol Tarres were delighted with how the machine performed in its first proper outing, especially considering they are the only riders racing on production machines, with everyone else using more specialized 450cc bikes.
Botturi led the charge for the team as the first rider to start the stage, although, without other riders' trails to follow, he was at a disadvantage. The 46-year-old Italian showed his experience and navigational skill to push hard throughout and finish in third place, setting a time of 41 minutes and 47 seconds, 2 minutes and 35 seconds behind the stage winner. This result perfectly played to his tactics, as he avoided having to lead the pack once more on the much longer second stage on Saturday.
Teammate Tarres made his Rally Raid debut starting from 13th and showed no signs of his inexperience as he stormed into second by the first waypoint. A slight navigation error saw him lose time and drop to fifteenth, but he recovered superbly to finish the stage in tenth with a time of 47 minutes and 34 seconds, leaving him 8 minutes and 22 seconds off the lead.
Having made such a positive start, the Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team are now looking forward to the 360km Stage 2, which starts in Djerba and ends in Matous, full of confidence and looking to show their true pace on Saturday.