Dakar: Yamaha stage 3 report

Over another tight European special – this time 9km on the beach in the Spanish town of Castellon – David Frétigné once again used his agile two-wheel-drive Yamaha WR450F 2-Trac to win his second consecutive special stage and extend his ...

Over another tight European special – this time 9km on the beach in the Spanish town of Castellon – David Frétigné once again used his agile two-wheel-drive Yamaha WR450F 2-Trac to win his second consecutive special stage and extend his overall lead in the 2004 Dakar rally over fellow Frenchman Cyril Despres (KTM) to 16 seconds after two days of competitive racing.

Frétigné, the 33-year-old from Mayenne who is making his debut in the legendary desert race, commented: “I was a little bit cautious over the first jumps but the bike again proved to be very well balanced and so I progressively picked up the pace as the special went on. I was very impressed with the drive I was getting out of the corners and the stability on the straights. Compared with the other bikes my wheelbase is quite a lot shorter, and so logically less stable in the sand, but the two-wheel-drive seems to compensate for this very well which is encouraging for the dune stages to come.

“To come to the Dakar is a dream for me and so to find myself at the top of the leaderboard is incredible. I am pleased to be able to reward all the hard work that Yamaha Motor France have put into the bike with such positive results. I don’t know the regulations very well but apparently the first three riders can choose in what position they want to start in once we are in Africa. I have also heard that the factory KTM riders have decided between themselves not to take up this option but obviously that doesn’t apply to me and so I will now have a good hard think on the way down to Tanger about how I can use the start order rule to my advantage.”

Once again the motorcycle competitors are allowed to load their bikes on their support trucks for the last 865km European liaison stage down to Tanger. Tomorrow the pace intensifies as the rally proper gets under way with a 233km liaison stage followed by a 75km special in northern Morocco and then another 444km liaison to Er Rachidia.

Yamaha's WR450F 2-Trac is the world’s first production two-wheel-drive motorcycle. Developed by the Yamaha-owned suspension company Öhlins, a limited number of machines are being built to go on sale to the public in 2004.

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Cyril Despres , David Fretigne