Yamaha riders control Dakar before hitting African soil Yamaha WR450F mounted riders have dominated the opening two stages that took the caravan from the start in the Portuguese capital Lisbon to the ferry crossing bound for Africa at the...
Yamaha riders control Dakar before hitting African soil
Yamaha WR450F mounted riders have dominated the opening two stages that took the caravan from the start in the Portuguese capital Lisbon to the ferry crossing bound for Africa at the Spanish harbor of Malaga. Portuguese enduro stars Helder Rodrigues and Ruben Faria won a stage each to lead the bike category into Morocco.
Ruben Faria was the surprise winner of the opening leg, beating his country man Helder Rodrigues by 16 seconds in the very tough deep sand of the first special stage. The circumstances took a lot of engine power and resulted in a fuel consumption that was higher than expected. Because of that, Ruben Faria had to nurture his fuel load towards the end, but saw his attempts for home glory rewarded.
Rodrigues, the top Yamaha finisher of the 2006 Dakar, countered on day two by winning the mountainous hard packed special in Spain, holding a 47 seconds advantage overall onFaria. By leading the standings Rodriques seems well on the way to improve hisninth position finish of last year, although this early in the rally he takes things steady.
Yamaha's frontman David Fretigne had a less favorable start to his fourth Dakar campaign. Nevertheless he managed to finish 12th on the first day and 8th on the second, bringing him a 9th position in the overall ranking.
Day three of the rally will take the riders from Nador to El Rachidia. This first leg on the African continent is a serious one with total length of 648 km, including a specials stage of 252 km.
Helder Rodrigues (POR), winner 2nd stage and 1st overall
"I meant to hit hard in the opening stage in my home country, but I just missed the victory by a tiny margin. I'm happy to win the stage of day two though. Now we hit Africa and we will see what we can do, I'm taking it on a day by day basis".
Ruben Faria (POR), winner 1st stage and 2nd overall
"I decided to go for an all-out attack, because I knew that it was my chance to win the stage. I had to slow down a bit towards the end to reduce fuel consumption and I reckon I could have ridden even faster. It was a very different route from last year, much more sand, I really like that. But it was exhausting too, I had to overtake at least 80 other competitors!
Day two was a great stage again, although it wasn't as good as the first since I had a fall and hurt my knee. I just hope the injury isn't too bad. I'm not totally reassured, so I will be going to hospital for a few examinations.
David Fretigne (FRA), 9th overall
"On day one I had problems with my brakes and that cost me valuable time. The special stage of day two was pretty hazardous and slippery, easy to get it wrong if you loose your concentration. But my bike works perfectly now and that makes all the difference, I was able to get a good feeling with the bike and into a good riding rhythm.
A stage like the one of day two is very complicated, because you can lose a lot if you take too many risks and make a mistake, but it is also important to have a good pace in order to stay in contention. It's a rather difficult balancing act."
-credit: yamaha racing