Stage 3 of the TDC was the toughest yet, physically and mentally, for the team, with 350km of some of the toughest sections encountered so far, including long stretches of energy-sapping sand dunes and a temperature of over 30 degrees Celsius. The team was wary of the challenge created by these dunes because their production Ténéré 700 World Raid bikes are heavier than the specialised 450cc enduro bikes they are competing against, which is a significant disadvantage when taking on such terrain. The team and bikes rose to the challenge despite suffering more bad luck, with both riders showing their skill and determination in equal measure to finish in the top seven.
Botturi continued his fantastic run during the rally, which saw the Italian rider finish on the podium in the first two stages. He followed up his third in the Prologue and second during Stage 2 with another commanding ride to P2. Right from the off, the 46-year-old meant business, settling into his rhythm and navigating the tricky special superbly. Even some of the most extensive dunes the experienced rider had come across during his illustrious career could not slow him down.
Man and machine worked in perfect unison as Botturi used the Ténéré’s extra power to his advantage through the soft sand and crossed the finish line after 6h 28’ 10”, precisely four minutes behind the stage winner. This result propelled him to the top of the overall classification with a time of 12h 06’ 19” and saw him open up an advantage of 9 minutes and 21 seconds over the rider in second.
His teammate Tarres was looking to bounce back after a minor crash in Saturday’s Stage 2 as he continues to gain experience during his maiden rally. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, luck was not on his side. He was accidentally taken out by a quad bike after 45km and sent flying from his bike, luckily escaping any significant injury. As he did the day before, the Spaniard showed how tough he is by picking himself up, dusting himself down, and remounting, but his navigation equipment was damaged beyond repair. Showing the true heroic rally spirit, he did not let this put him off, sensationally managing to navigate over 300km of the Tunisian Desert by following other competitors and using the extra torque of his 700cc twin-cylinder Ténéré to make up for the lost time.
Despite the sweltering heat, damage to his bike, and having to ride in the dust trail of his rivals not to get lost, Tarres mounted an incredible fightback, mastering the tricky dunes to finish the stage in seventh with a time of 7h 55’ 01”. His bravery and tenacity were rewarded by moving up eight places in the overall classification to ninth, with a total time of 14h 54’ 06”.
Next up for the Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team, in partnership with Riders for Health, is Monday’s Stage 4 from Matous – Ksar Ghilane, which will see the riders take on similar terrain as today with even more tricky Tunisian dunes over the 300km course.