The fifth stage of eight at the Morocco Desert Challenge (MDC) started from the bivouac in Foum Zguid and saw the competitors take on a 385km special that partially followed the old Paris-Dakar route. Rocky trails, stony tracks, and the dunes of Erg Chegaga made up the stage before it ended at the bivouac in M’hamid, while temperatures rising to 50 degrees Celsius added to the challenging nature of the special.
In just his second season in Rally Raid, Tarrés is showing the world his potential as he once again managed to secure third for the third stage in a row, meaning he has been on the podium in four of the five stages so far. Despite his lack of experience, the Andorran navigated superbly to end the stage with a time of four hours, 15 minutes and 12 seconds, 21 minutes and eight seconds behind the winner of the special.
His experienced teammate Faggotter, filling in for regular rider Alessandro Botturi due to a schedule clash for the Italian, was setting a great pace before he was struck by a rock at around the 70km mark. It caused damage to his chain guard and sprocket, but the Australian managed to carry out running repairs and made sure he made it to the refuelling point, wary of breaking down in the scorching desert heat. Addressing the issue superbly, he then put the hammer down in the second half of the stage and passed over 20 riders on track to secure ninth and finish in a time of four hours, 46 minutes and 26 seconds.
These results mean that Tarres remains third in the general classification, 55 minutes and 35 seconds behind the leader. Faggotter is fourth despite losing time on Thursday's stage, 37 minutes and 36 seconds behind his teammate, and almost an hour ahead of the rider in fifth, while the duo maintains a 1-2 in the Big Bike category (600cc and above).
During the MDC, the official Yamaha Team is being accompanied by several riders taking part in the Ténéré Spirit Experience (TSE), and they were joined on Thursday by “Mr Dakar” Stéphane Peterhansel. The Belgian is the most successful Dakar competitor of all time, winning six titles for Yamaha during the 90s, riding a twin-cylinder Ténéré and a further eight on four wheels. The 57-year-old enjoyed being reunited with the modern version of the bike he created history in Africa on and was delighted to share his experience and knowledge with the TSE riders.
Thursday’s Stage 6 at the MDC is cancelled for the Bike class due to the tragic passing of 48-year-old Dutch malle-moto rider Bram van der Wouden. Everyone in the Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team offers their sincere condolences to his family and friends.