Split into two specials of 69 and 227 kilometers, today’s stage took the 2015 Dakar competitors from Antofagasta to Iquique in the north of Chile.
Yamaha Factory Racing Rally Team Yamalube’s Alessandro Botturi put the WR450F Rally’s power to good use today and is climbing up the order as Dakar reaches the mid way point.
Split into two specials of 69 and 227 kilometres, today’s stage took the 2015 Dakar competitors from Antofagasta to Iquique in the north of Chile. The first part of the stage was full of holes and gave the riders flashbacks of yesterday’s bumpy route. The second part along the Pacific coast and over smooth dunes was a welcome change and really allowed the riders to make the most of their bikes and have fun. The first Yamaha WR450F Rally home was that of Italian Botturi in 12th place, followed by his teammates Michael Metge and Olivier Pain in 15th place and 34th place.
Then we got to the dunes and the bike performed much better.
The quad category has turned into an exciting duel between Ignacio Casale and Rafal Sonik. The latter rider dominated the last two stages, but today Casale showed his mettle. The Chilean regained one third from Sonik’s lead but he still has 16 minutes to make up to overtake the Polish rider in the overall standings. Sergio Lafuente (23’08) completes the provisional Yamaha top three. In the overall standings he has a time gap to the front of over 40 minutes.
Tomorrow all the bike and quad riders get a well-earned rest while their mechanics rebuild their bikes and prepare them for the second week.
Alessandro Botturi (12th / 15’03, overall 13th / 01h19’18): “At the start we had a long fast piste with lots of big holes in it and after that we went through a canyon. That section of the special was hard work. I was chasing after Casteu but couldn’t get past him. Then we got to the dunes and the bike performed much better. I could use the engine’s power to the fullest extent and went straight past the Frenchman.”
Michael Metge (15th / 17’09, overall 17th / 01h26’31): “The holes at the beginning were horrible. There wasn’t any danger marked on the road book but you really had to pay attention and it was impossible to find a good rhythm. When we got to the technical section the bike worked better and once in the dunes the Yamaha’s power made all the difference. The only problem I had in the dunes was when I stalled the bike and took a little while to get going again. Then, at the end of the stage, we went into town for a podium finish. After a day out in the desert it was nice to see so many people and they looked equally pleased to see us.”
Olivier Pain (34th / 42’08, overall 20th / 02h10’40): “The special was very bumpy at the start, followed by a technical part where you had to take care with the navigation and then at the end we had the traditional dunes before Iquique. It was a reasonably varied stage but we could have done with a bit more navigation. Once again the engine worked well and the electric start is a real bonus in the dunes, but the bike is physically demanding over a long special like today’s.”