After yesterday’s mixed first day it was essential for the Yamaha riders to keep up the pace and stay within the leading group on the third stage of the Dakar challenge, aboard their WR450F Rally. Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team riders Hélder Rodrigues and Alessandro Botturi, who both faced medical issues, ranked within the top 18, but it was Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team’s Adrien Van Beveren who shone the most. The Dakar-rookie secured a solid seventh position, whilst teammate Xavier De Soultrait started to move upwards to finish 34th.
After yesterday’s relatively easy-going weather for the competitors, consisting of blazing sunshine and sweltering heat, it was a different scenario today on the third stage. Besides battling against the chrono, the riders also had to deal with unpredictable weather conditions during the 550-kilometre journey from Termas de Río Hondo to San Salvador De Jujuy. The competitors soared on a 200-kilometre special section, a shortened version due to storm and rainfall on the first half of the course.
The Yamaha-riders had to keep their speed and heads up in a special that required their complete focus. It was essential to handle the WR450F Rally well in the mountain sections and slippery passageways of today’s route, that were full of piled up dust.
Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team’s Botturi started the day with a wrist injury, caused by a fall in stage two. He bravely rode his Yamaha back to the bivouac and minimised the consequences on his clocked time. He ended his charge with an encouraging 14th position overall, despite his physical suffering, which he hopes to take care of before tomorrow’s marathon stage’s departure.
His teammate, Hélder Rodrigues, wasn’t able to fully express his abilities today. Despite being weakened by flu, with a fever and little energy, he still featured in the leading group and secured 18th position, with less than a five-minute gap to the man in first place. The Portuguese rider, who is competing in his tenth rally, remains confident for the upcoming stages, as his experience has taught him that a stable pace could pay off big at the finish line.
Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team’s Adrien Van Beveren was hungry to add more kilometres to his WR450F Rally’s odometer and showed that he is up to par with the most experienced competitors in the field. The Frenchman made a good start in his first Dakar Rally appearance and is determined to learn from and improve after each stage. He is the embodiment of a new generation Dakar riders; riding fast and determined to shake-up the established order, as he showed today when he finished the stage in seventh position.
Fellow junior-rider Xavier De Soultrait was in a hurry to gain places in the overall classification, after a difficult prologue and first stage. He progressed steadily and ended up ranking 34th. For him to reach his goal of joining Van Beveren in the leading group is a matter of time, especially if he rides a cleverly controlled upcoming marathon stage.
Tomorrow the Yamaha riders will get underway and will be left to their own devices for the first marathon stage. This 630-kilometre circular route leads from Jujuy to Jujuy and has to be completed without assistance from Yamaha’s mechanics. The riders will meet up with Yamaha’s assisting crew two days later, in Uyuni’s bivouac in Bolivia.