Dakar 2016’s Toughest Challenge; Yamaha's Riders Complete First Half of Marathon Stage2016-01-07 20:19
With already nearly 2500 kilometers on the WR450F Rally's odometers, the fourth stage, also known as 'the marathon stage' of the 2016 Dakar Rally, was a real test for the Yamaha's riders. Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Hélder Rodrigues and Alessandro Botturi kept their front-positions and finished in 14th and 16th place respectively. It was Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team's Adrien Van Beveren who came out of this marathon stage as the best Yamaha rider with a safely secured 11th position, whilst his teammate Xavier De Soultrait continued his good ascent in the rankings and classified in 18th place.
Early this morning the competitors left their mechanic and staff behind in Jujuy's bivouac for a 630-kilometre journey that loops back to Jujuy's bivouac, but ends with the riders and their bikes spending the night in a closed-off area, with no assistance. The 429-kilometre special section of stage 4 took place at an average 3500m altitude, making the route even more challenging for the riders and the bikes as engines behave differently at higher grounds.
Today the overall pace was fast again, despite the route taking the participants into the mountains where the surface varied between sand and rocks. Rodrigues, still waiting to recover from his flu, rode his race with the intention to keep closing in on the leaders. Classifying 15th, he didn't push much, but instead rode very carefully during the marathon stage, as it's a turning point in the Dakar. It was crucial for the Portuguese rider to bring his WR450F Rally back in good shape. He is looking forward to fully using his strengths when he has returned to full fitness and he is confident for his return.
Teammate Botturi fought as a warrior today, pushing on in spite of his right wrist injury, which still gives him pain. He finished in 17th position, a respectable result for the team taking into account the tough conditions for the Italian rider. Together with Rodrigues, he will carefully check and reset the bike tonight, with a few tools and no help from the Yamaha mechanics. A good night's sleep is a must to handle the second half of the marathon stage well tomorrow.
Van Beveren was given instructions to moderate his riding on his first ever marathon stage. He crossed the finish line in a solid 11th position. The junior has a boasted confidence thanks to a good start on the Dakar. Apart from some minor mistakes on the second stage, he is riding smartly as he focusses on learning from his more experienced fellow Yamaha riders.
His teammate, Xavier De Soultrait, is climbing up the order step-by-step. He took 18th position today, just behind Botturi as he worked on decreasing the gap to the front, which was a result of a rocky start to the rally during the prologue. The Frenchman is now back in the leading group, after spending the last three days passing many competitors.
In the ATV category the race is animated! The famous local Yamaha riders and previous Dakar winners Marcos and Alejandro Patronelli are working their way up towards the Dakar Rally Podium aboard their Yamaha Raptor 700s. The brothers are battling hard with their main rivals and fellow Yamaha-riders: the Chilian rider Ignacio Casale, the Brasilian Marcelo Medeiros, the Peruvian Alexis Hernandez and also the Polish Rafael Sonik . The tough competition makes for a fast race and tiny time gaps! Today's marathon special winner, Marcos Patronelli, had a margin of 0,16 seconds and is positioned fifth overall,. Alejandro Patronelli secured fourth place in today's stage and classifies on the overall podium, in third position.
Tomorrow the second half of the marathon stage will take place. The riders will cross the boarder from Argentina going into Bolivia when they travel from Jujuy to Uyuni. Their entry into Bolivia is marked by an abrupt increase in altitude, as they climb up to 4600m, the highest point in this year's Dakar, during the day's special section.
You can stay up-to-date and follow all the Dakar action using the live tracking application. To track Yamaha's riders during the second half of the marathon stage, click HERE.
Additionally, you can follow Yamaha's progress in the Dakar Rally HERE and click HERE for more imagery of Dakar 2016.
José Leloir, Yamalube Yamaha Rally Teams Sport Director
"Today was the first part of the two marathon days. It was important for the riders to preserve strength and conserve the motorcycles. We have almost the same situation today as we did yesterday; the two official riders do not have a full hundred per cent of their strength but they still gave it their all in order to stay within the first group with a good chrono. We asked Adrien Van Beveren to ride conservatively to keep his WR450F Rally in good shape for tomorrow and he did the job well. Xavier De Soultrait, on the other hand, didn't save energy as he is still rising in the classifications.''
Source: Yamaha Motor Europe N.V.
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