Yamaha 450F Rally Revealed in Bid for 2014 Dakar Glory

Yamaha today revealed its official racing livery for the 2014 Dakar Rally. The clock is ticking down now and the final stages of preparation are completed ahead of the 5th of January start.

Expectations are high as Yamaha Factory Racing’s latest evolution of the YZ450F Rally will be in the hands of Dakar legend Cyril Despres on the start line in Rosario, Argentina. Despres leads the manufacturer’s efforts for Dakar glory supported by fellow Frenchmen Michael Metge and Olivier Pain and Dutchman Frans Verhoeven.

The Yamaha riders stole the opening show in the 2013 Dakar Rally with their 450F machines, Pain leading overall from the fourth to the end of the seventh stage before handing over control to fellow Yamaha rider David Casteu going into the rest day. Casteu claimed a stage win on the fifth stage and Dutchman Verhoeven took the 12th stage.

Despres is the most successful Dakar rider of the last decade, winning in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013. His record in the world’s toughest endurance race is only beaten by fellow Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel’s impressive six victories, all taken with Yamaha. Since his signing earlier this year, Despres has been a key factor in the development and preparation of the 2014 Yamaha YZ450F rally machine, combining his years of Dakar experience with Yamaha’s technical expertise.

Verhoeven enters his second year with Yamaha Motor Europe and Yamaha Motor Netherlands. His first Dakar experience was 2005, the Dutchman gradually increasing his experience to finish a career best of eighth in 2009. Verhoeven can also claim three stage victories along with two top three finishes in 2012. 2013 saw him take another stage victory as he battled for glory in South America, unfortunately suffering some bad luck along the way but recovering to finish ninth overall.

Metge steps up to as the support rider for Despres, the young Frenchman continuing to build his Dakar experience, now riding with the best and hoping to improve on his 18th place finish of last year.

Yamaha Racing France Yamalube rider Pain held the lead for five days in the 2013 Rally, gaining valuable experience to put his YZ450F to the test in South America again this year. Pain wrapped up 2013 just outside the top five in sixth overall.

In addition to running through Argentina and Chile, this year’s Rally will provide a new challenge for the riders as they leave Peru behind and instead tackle unforgiving territory in Bolivia. Added to this will be two marathon stages representing 2,702km (1,228km between San Rafael and Chilecito plus 1,474km between Salta and Calama), including a special stage of 1,590km (726 km and 864 km).

Yamaha Racing Argentina’s Marcos Patronelli is the only Patronelli brother entered in the 2014 Dakar in the Quad category. Patronelli will be looking to take his third Dakar title with the Yamaha Raptor. He leads the top three all Yamaha machines with the 250 plate, behind him on 251 is Chile’s Ignacio Consale and on 252 is Poland’s Rafal Sonik. All eyes will also be on Argentina’s Jeremias González Ferioli, who will become the youngest ever competitor to start the Dakar Rally when he crosses the start line on his Yamaha Raptor shortly after his 18th birthday.