Yamaha keep firm grip on the 450cc class lead With a stage-win, a second place and six other top 15 finishes Yamaha WR450F rider Helder Rodrigues (POR) is the current leader of the category up to 450cc. Helder is closely chased by Frenchman ...
Yamaha keep firm grip on the 450cc class lead
With a stage-win, a second place and six other top 15 finishes Yamaha WR450F rider Helder Rodrigues (POR) is the current leader of the category up to 450cc. Helder is closely chased by Frenchman Michel Marchini, also riding a Yamaha WR450F. With nine of the 15 riding days and already 5000 km absolved, the riders are now less then a week away from the finish of the grueling 2007 edition of the Dakar rally.
Top Yamaha man David Fretigne held the 450cc class lead up to stage seven, but then misfortune hit him hard and he was forced to retire.
David crashed heavily in the dunes on the seventh leg from Zouerat to AtÃ'r, the last stage before the rest day. David explained; "After the fuel stop around 350 km's in the stage my bike did not run well and I crashed when the engine stopped when I was descending a dune. I went over the handle bars and the bike landed on top of me and the foot peg hit me in my right side, injuring my ribs." Despite the aggravation David remounted straight away and carried on with his crash damaged bike in order not to loose too much time on the leaders. "The fuelling problems continued and David lost a further one and a half hours doing the necessary repairs. David arrived very tired and frustrated at the finish line; "To make things worse, just on the day when I have a problem the stage was made ten km longer due to poor visibility!"
After the finish it became clear that David's condition was pretty bad with two fractured and one broken rib; 'I did not sleep at all and it felt like somebody was poking a knife in my right side". The next morning David decided to retire from the race; I'm not able to restart in this condition and be competitive, I would have to take unnecessary risks just for making up the numbers. I came here to finish each of the stages in the top six, close to the podium overall and win the 450cc class, that is now impossible, so it is better to quit."
With Fretigne out, Yamaha's hopes are now on Helder Rodrigues who had one of his toughest days on the Sunday stage. This 589 km special stage was the longest and possibly the hardest day of the rally; very difficult to navigate and with a very rocky surface. Rodrigues was one of the riders to get lost early on, costing him a detour of 15 km, yet he recovered strongly to finish 12th overall. Yesterday, Monday 15 January,Rodrigues further improved his position in the overall standings with a seventh position finish, Marchini came in eight minutes later to trail Rodrigues on 40 minutes in the overall standings and second in the 450 class.
The leaders overall (bikes over 450cc capacity) are the factory supported Coma (Spa), followed by Despres (Fra) and Casteu (Fra). Yamaha rider Josef Machacek (CZE) is on top of the Quads leaderboard.