At the end of a particularly hard first week, all the bike competitors of the 2015 Dakar are enjoying a well-earned rest day.
Today is a chance to sort out their affairs, ring their families and, time permitting, grab a quick afternoon siesta. It’s also a chance for them to go over their first six stages in their minds and set their goals for the second week.
Of the Yamaha Factory Team Rally Yamalube riders, Alessandro Botturi currently sits in 11th place overall, with Michael Metge 15th and Olivier Pain 21st position. Spanish Yamaha rider Juan Pedrero holds 19th place (at 2h08’06) in the overall standings and Dutchman Frans Verhoeven finds himself in 25th position (at 2h50’35).
Alessandro Botturi (11th / 1h19’18): “My objective was to be in 6th or 7th place on the rest day so at 11th place I’m behind schedule. I think it was a reasonable objective for the end of the second week, but in retrospect the decision not to race in Morocco has cost us places. We thought we could compensate with testing time but there is no substitute for race kilometres. The other thing that has cost us places has been the lack of navigation on the rally so far.
We’ve hardly had any difficult navigation and that is one of my strengths. Hopefully the second week will see two or three days of difficult navigation that will allow me to pull back some time. On the positive side the engine is clearly very strong and has proved reliable and the team have kept their focus, even when there have been difficult days. That is a big help for us riders. It is important when we are out on the track fighting for places to know that the team is behind us.”
Michael Metge (15th / 1h26’31): “There’s no denying it has been a hard first week. Before this Dakar my goal was to be at least in the top 10 by the rest day and clearly I haven’t achieved that objective. In retrospect maybe that was a little ambitious on a brand new bike that was only finished a few weeks before the start and hadn’t been tested in race conditions prior to coming here. The positive points are that the engine is very strong, possibly the strongest of all the bikes entered.
The other big plus on the new WR450F Rally is the electric start. That might seem like a minor detail, but when you stall in the dunes and the thermometer is in the high 40s it saves an awful lot of precious energy. It should also be noted that all three of us (the Yamaha Factory Team Rally Yamalube riders) have made it to the midway point without losing any major time broken down on the special.
On a bike this young, that’s a major achievement and a tribute to those who built it. Finally, on the positive side, both physically and mentally I feel very strong, all the work I did after injuring my knee has clearly paid off.”
Olivier Pain (21st / 2h10’40): “It was a hard week – more mentally than physically. We came here with high hopes after last year’s podium and all the hard work we put into the new bike this last year. Unfortunately we are paying now for a lack of development time. On the positive side the engine is good and overall the bike is reliable. The lack of race kilometres however means we never had the chance to work on settings that are adapted to the wide variety of terrain that you can experience on just one single stage here on the Dakar.
Now, on the rest day, we have a chance to put that behind us, find new settings that will help us in the week to come and re-energise ourselves for the second week. Today another podium place is looking far away, but with our sponsors, fans and team all behind us we will continue to work hard to achieve the best possible result and gain valuable knowledge for Dakars to come.”
Alexandre Kowalski - Team Director: “The Dakar isn’t considered the hardest motorsport race in the world for nothing. As such it’s extremely unforgiving and pardons nothing. Of this first week we can say that the positive points are the engine and the bike’s reliability. However all the Yamaha Factory riders agree that the bike is physically demanding to ride in certain situations and this is where we need to progress, with what is effectively a brand new bike. The whole team is 100% behind the riders and we will do our maximum to try and improve the bike as much as possible over this second week, with the resources we have with us here on the Dakar.”
Dakar Rally 2015: Overall Ranking
1. Joan Barreda Bort, ESP (Honda) 21:38:35
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 21:51:02
3. Paulo Gonçalves, PRT (Honda) 21:55:47
4. Pablo Quintanilla, CHL (KTM) 22:08:32
5. Toby Price, AUS (KTM) 22:12:19
6. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 22:14:39
7. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 22:19:02
8. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 22:20:02
9. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco TVS) 22:31:31
10. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 22:53:27
11. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (Yamaha) 22:57:53
12. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 22:58:32
13. Riaan Van Niekerk, ZAF (KTM) 22:58:48
14. Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert, ESP (Honda) 23:01:44
15. Michael Metge, FRA (Yamaha) 23:05:06
19. Juan Pedrero, ESP (Yamaha) 23:46:41
21. Olivier Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 23:49:15
25. Frans Verhoeven, NLD (Yamaha) 24:29:10