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2016 Dakar Longest Stage; Rodrigues Snatches Victory for Yamaha

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The battle for a top-5 position gets more intense as the Dakar Rally closes to the finish; anything can happen in the last kilometres. Hélder Rodrigues, sixth in the overall classification after yesterday’s eleventh stage, knows it. It was in his reach to climb to fifth today, but the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider did even better, pulling out a stage win. Yamaha’s junior rider, Adrien Van Beveren, followed closely in his teammate’s tracks and delivered an equally impressive performance, finishing in fifth position.

In his quest to gain one seat in the Dakar Rally overall classification, Hélder Rodrigues claimed the stage title of today’s twelfth special of the competition; a title that bodes well one day before the finish in Rosario. The Portuguese rider and his junior teammate had to overcome 931 kilometres of the Dakar Rally’s longest stage, from San Juan to Villa Carlos Paz. Today they rode on semi-mountainous terrain with dense vegetation, on narrow tracks with mud, and under rainfalls.

If the race started with very tiny chrono between the top-10 riders, Rodrigues significantly widened the gap in the last safety passage control, demonstrating his endurance. He stood out as the winner after almost a six-hour race, with a four and a half minutes gap on the second rider. He climbed up one important place in the overall classification; Rodrigues is now only four minutes from the podium. With a good ride tomorrow, he could have the opportunity to make Yamaha shine in Rosario.

Today’s second great performance comes from Adrien Van Beveren, Yamaha’s rookie, who is participating in his first Dakar Rally. Pulled by Hélder Rodrigues’ tempo, he signed off the day with an impressive fifth position on today’s stage. He had a big smile on his face when he joined Villa Carlos Paz’s bivouac, as he looked back to his journey on the Dakar. Humble and calm, the Frenchman will stay focused on the race to cross the finish line of his first Dakar Rally tomorrow. Van Beveren is seventh on the overall Dakar timesheet.

In the quad category, Marcos Patronelli had to fight hard today to bring another stage win to the family. He was very challenged by the other competitors for most of the stage and managed to rise to first only in the last kilometres; Marcos crossed the finish line as the winner, with less than ten seconds on the following rider. Alejandro Patronelli ended up fifth, which does not impact on his overall classification; he is still second, four minutes behind his brother. The Patronelli brothers don’t need to worry tomorrow on their road to Rosario’s podium, as they still have one hour and fifty-two minutes advantage on their closest rivals.

Tomorrow will be the last race day of the 2016 Dakar Rally. The thirteenth stage will cover a 180-kilometre special section and a 519-kilometre liaison, bringing the competitors from Villa Carlos Paz’ bivouac to Rosario’s finish podium, and set the stage to decide this year’s winner. As anything could happen, tomorrow’s special may be one of the most challenging for the leading board, with twisty, undulating routes, faster sandy and rocky sections… leading to significant levels of stress.

To track Yamaha’s riders during tomorrow’s thirteenth and last stage, click HERE.

Additionally, you can follow Yamaha’s progress in the Dakar Rally HERE and click HERE for more imagery of Dakar 2016.

Hélder Rodrigues, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team

1st, overall 5th / +00:57:29

“Today was a good day for me and for the whole Yamaha crew. It was a difficult stage but I felt it was the moment to attack and finally I managed to win! What is great is that I climbed up in a good position to fight for a podium tomorrow. I will stay focused until I cross the finish line but, for sure, I will push even more for the last stage. The WR450F Rally is really a good bike; on a rally as the Dakar, a machine that lasts the distance makes a big difference. Yamaha’s crew did a good job on this competition, day after day; I had great pleasure working with them.”

Adrien Van Beveren, Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team

5th / +00:07:28, 7th / +01:36:42

“My initial goal was to join the bivouac every day, stage after stage, with my WR450F Rally and in good shape; there is still tomorrow’s final stage to complete but I’m almost there! I did not meet any major difficulty and my bike is still performing well. I am doing better results than I expected and that’s a great satisfaction for Yamaha and for me. I still need to learn, ride, gain experience but I have room for improvement and that bodes well for the future.”

José Leloir, Yamalube Yamaha Rally Sport Manager

“This stage win is very welcome on this tough Dakar and makes all the team so happy. We knew that the WR450F Rally was a good bike but we did not have the confirmation, as Hélder Rodrigues was sick from the Dakar’s start and unable to fully express himself at the handlebars of our new bike. Today we’ve had the proof that we built up a top performing machine, and it is even a greater satisfaction to win on the longest stage of this 2016 Dakar (911 kilometres with a 480-kilometre special). Hélder Rodrigues did a very good job and created a big gap with the following competitors on this stage, so he has the opportunity to fight for a podium tomorrow. Congratulations also to Adrien Van Beveren, who’s doing a very good competition; he is a steady rider and his efforts pay off as he figures now in seventh overall on his first Dakar Rally. Adrien already achieved the goal we set for him and the result, after two intense weeks, is very interesting; Adrien represents our future in rally-raid.”

“Three years have passed since Yamaha’s last stage win on the Dakar Rally. This achievement means a lot for Yamaha: it confirmed that we built up a good and high performing brand new bike, which is solid for the Dakar and pleasant for the riders. Congratulations to Hélder Rodrigues, who is bringing back such a title to Yamaha! Yamaha has a common story with Hélder on the Dakar, and we may write another page of it tomorrow. Adrien Van Beveren is also sending positive signals for Yamaha’s future on the Dakar. Those two riders, very different in their experience, appear to be a good duo and complement each other. Today’s win is a reward for the whole team, who worked hard for months; we stay focused to make it tomorrow in the best possible way.”

Dakar Rally Classification of Stage 12

1. Hélder Rodrigues (PRT), Yamaha, 06:00:24
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 06:04:56, +00:04:32
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 06:05:19, +00:04:55
4. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, 06:07:12, +00:06:48
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 06:07:52, +00:07:28
6. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 06:12:47, +00:12:23
7. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), KTM, 06:17:28, +00:17:04
8. Armand Monleon (ESP), KTM, 06:17:39, +00:17:15
9. Olivier Pain (FRA), KTM, 06:18:00, +00:17:36
10. Jacopo Cerutti (ITA), Huqsvarna, 06:18:53, +00:18:29

31. Javier Mauricio Gomez (ARG), Yamaha, 06:44:10, +00:43:46
39. Frans Verhoeven (NLD), Yamaha, 06:54:15, +00:53:51
40. Bruno Da Costa (FRA), Yamaha, 06:54:30, +00:54:06

Dakar Rally General Classification of Event after Leg 12

1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 46:13:26
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, 46:51:05, +00:37:39
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 47:06:36, +00:53:10
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 47:10:54, +00:57:28
5. Hélder Rodrigues (PRT), Yamaha, 47:10:55, +00:57:29
6. Antoine Méo (FRA), KTM, 47:28:16, +01:14:50
7. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 47:50:08, +01:36:42
8. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), KTM, 48:07:56, +01:54:30
9. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 48:16:32, +02:03:06
10. Armand Monleon (ESP), KTM, 49:32:39, +03:19:13

18. Frans Verhoeven (NLD), Yamaha, 51:06:10, +04:52:44
40. Bruno Da Costa (FRA), Yamaha, 57:48:09, +11:34:43
47. Javier Mauricio Gomez (ARG), Yamaha, 60:02:40, +13:49:14