Dakar: Yamaha stages one to three report

In the first days of the 2006 Dakar David Frétigné positioned himself amongst the favorites for winning the grueling Rally event. 233 bikes started from Lissabon to Portimão for the first day. With the starting order inversed, meaning that ...

In the first days of the 2006 Dakar David Frétigné positioned himself amongst the favorites for winning the grueling Rally event. 233 bikes started from Lissabon to Portimão for the first day. With the starting order inversed, meaning that the highest starting number would depart first, Frétigné carrying number 12 was one of the last riders to depart. He finished the day in sixth position being hampered by rainy conditions and some slower competitors ahead of him.

Day two of the event introduced the longest special stage in Europe ever with a length of 115 Km, entering Spain over mountainous terrain to finish in the port of Malaga from where the caravan would make the cross over to Africa. Frétigné did not make the mistake to answer to the challenges of the local heroes from Portugal and Spain, who made an extra effort for home glory. Instead he rode a calculated and defensive race, bracing himself for treacherous African conditions, knowing that only there the race will be decided. He ended the day ninth overall.

The third stage in 2006 Dakar from Nador to Er Rachidia introduced the first African terrain; stony tracks and Moroccan cliffs. The same route has appeared on the maps already three times earlier in the Dakar history but every time the course is laid out different. This meant there was little advantage for those who rode the rally previously, since the 'old' GPS navigation technique is replaced by a sole source of navigation; the road book. 237 km of liaison prior to the 314 km special stage followed again by a final 121 km of liaison completed the total of 672 km of the 3rd day.

Leaving the first African bivouac at 5:30, David Frétigné (Yamaha WR450F Kit Afrique - Yamaha Team France Ipone), could not foresee the upcoming problems with the power supply of his road book. 100 km within the special, the power supply failed and the rider had to rely on his navigation skills. Focussing on the main objective of keeping in touch with the current leaders, the Yamaha pilot finished in 12th position, improving to 7th position overall on the provisional leader board.

David Frétigné (Yamaha WR450F Kit Afrique - Yamaha Motor France Ipone): "Again a good day of riding and I wasn't intimidated by the fast pace of Caldecott (Aus). I started today's special at 9:20 and before CP1 (Check Point), problems occurred with the electrical supply for the road book. I tried to operate it by hand but it was too dangerous. I was glad that I could stay on the stage and the follow the route. The lack of a GPS system made it very difficult, but I quickly rediscovered my navigation skills. I was accompanying Cyril Despres. Later on, when we passed a group of riders, Despres drove away from me and I was pretty much alone. After CP2, visibility was poor due to the dust. Caldecott is a contender that knows how to navigate in poor visual conditions. In 2004 I was still impressed by his speed in the Australian Safari but in this years Dakar event I'm not. Physically I'm fit and the WR450F is fast. The work that been done in the Shamrock rally-raid on suspension gives me a lot of confidence. While focussing on problems with my road book, I had a 'moment' every now and then, but the bike reacted very well.

Six minutes behind after day three in general standing is not really a problem. I take every day as it comes and I am not going to worry too much about the time I'm behind the leaders. I have to concentrate on each individual stage. There will be good and bad better days, but that's Dakar.

-yamaha-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Cyril Despres , David Fretigne