Today’s eleventh stage was all about agility and speed as the route brought the competitors from La Rioja to San Juan. After yesterday’s unlucky results for the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team and the Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team, the two top riders Hélder Rodrigues and Adrien Van Beveren proved their determination today to shake up the general standings in the tail end of the competition by keeping their steady pace. They faced today’s challenges head on and secured fourth and fifth place respectively.

In the last race days of the Dakar Rally all the competitors are pushing to the limit with tiny time differences separating the top-10 leaders; it’s combat on a small scale that decides who ends up in the best position in Rosario. Heat, speed and navigation were on the menu of today’s 431-kilometre special on a changing route over sand, heavy fesh-fesh, gravel and pebbles, completed in unbearable heat.

While the Yamaha riders completed the whole stage in the front-runners group, the last competitors, those who ranked lower than 19th, were stopped during the race (at CP4 and CP2) due to the excessive heat; again, for security reasons another stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally was shortened.

Steadiness proved to be a decisive factor in determining success at the world’s toughest rally and this strategy paid off for Hélder Rodrigues. If the Portuguese was still in pain from his marathon stage’s shoulder injury, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team’s rider certainly didn’t let it show on today’s stage. He rode a tactically sound eleventh special, preserving his bike whilst still pushing his rivals. He kept the tempo up, firmly determined to prove all his abilities aboard his WR450F Rally. He ended up the day in a solid fourth position and still has plenty of opportunity to climb up more places in the general classification; the gap to his closest rival is less than five minutes.

Adrien Van Beveren, who excelled himself in his first experience with dune racing, followed in Rodrigues’ tracks. Yamaha’s rookie slowed down his pace in order to avoid any navigation mistakes in today’s stage and proved again that his more experienced rivals have nothing on him. Cautious, meticulous and dedicated to crossing the finish line of his first Dakar Rally aboard his WR450F Rally, the junior secured his best score today in signing off with a fifth best time of the stage and he now holds the seventh spot in the general classification.

In the quad category, Alejandro Patronelli was in control over today’s stage and finished in first position, whilst his brother Marcos was held up. The South African, Brian Baragwanath, continued his progress and pushed the Patronelli family hard; he positioned himself between the brothers and signed off the day in second position. However, the Patronellis still have a significant edge over their competitors in the overall timesheet, of one hour and forty one minutes.

Tomorrow, 2016 Dakar’s penultimate day, the competitors will have to complete more than 900 kilometres, half of which are a part of the special section, leading from San Juan to Villa Carlos Paz. The riders will ride over a completely different landscape, on semi-mountainous terrain with a lot of vegetation; a stage made for fans of authentic riding.

To track the Yamaha’s riders during tomorrow’s twelfth 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

4th / +00:06:02, 6th / +01:02:01

“It was so hot over there in the dunes! It was a nice rally-raid special today with a lot of navigation, but I must admit that every day of this second week is getting tougher, as we get closer to the arrival. There are only two days left before Rosario, but everything is possible and I know I can get an even better result. The Yamaha team is working hard to give us every opportunity to succeed; I will keep pushing and give my best until the end.”

Adrien Van Beveren, Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team

5th / +00:12:09, 7th / +01:33:4

“It was a difficult eleventh stage! I started with a fall at the beginning of the race, resulting in few broken parts on my bike; I had to adapt myself and moderate my ride. I didn’t want to take any risk two days before the arrival. I am glad I crossed today’s finish line in a good shape and even set a good score. I try not to think too much about the position and keep focused on the race to achieve the goal I set for myself before the competition: to get to the finish line in Rosario.”

Alexandre Kowalski, Yamalube Yamaha Rally Teams Director

“Every day is different and everything can change in a few hours in the Dakar Rally. After yesterday’s tough day for Yamaha, we made a combined attack on today’s stage with the front man, Hélder Rodrigues, and the junior, Adrien Van Beveren, finishing the stage in the wheel of one another. They rode a remarkable race, taking into account the temperatures and fiercely sunny conditions of today, and they gained some more time on their closest competitors. Adrien made a leap forward in the overall classification: from tenth yesterday night he climbed up to seventh place tonight, just behind his teammate. Rodrigues is sixth and very close to fifth place. Tomorrow there is one more long stage, with a 481-kilometre special and a 414-kilometre liaison in a different atmosphere, as we will exchange the dunes for mountains. The team is working hard and we look forward to preparing the riders and bikes for two more challenging upcoming stages; we will do our best to arrive in Rosario in the best possible way.”

Dakar Rally Classification of Stage 11

1. Antoine Méo (FRA), KTM, 05:19:08
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 05:19:26, +00:00:18
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 05:21:56, +00:02:48
4.Hélder Rodrigues (PRT), Yamaha, 05:25:10, +00:06:02
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 05:31:21, +00:12:09

6. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 05:31:21, +00:12:13
7. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, 05:31:37, +00:12:29
8.Ian Blythe (USA), KTM, 05:40:36, +00:21:28
9. Jordy Viladoms (ESP), KTM, 05:44:37, +00:25:29
10. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), KTM, 05:46:15, +00:27:07

17. Frans Verhoeven (NLD), Yamaha, 44:11:55, +04:03:25
41. Bruno Da Costa (FRA), Yamaha,  05:52:39, +10:45:09
48. Javier Mauricio Gomez (ARG), Yamaha, 53:18:30, +13:10:00

Dakar Rally General Classification of Event after Leg 11

1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 40:08:30
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, 40:43:53, +00:35:23
3. Antoine Méo (FRA), KTM, 40:52:16, +00:43:46
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 40:43:49, +00:45:19
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 41:05:35, +00:57:05
6.Hélder Rodrigues (PRT), Yamaha, 41:10:31, +01:02:01
7.Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 41:42:16, +01:33:46
8. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 41:48:25, +01:39:55
9. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), KTM, 41:50:28, +01:41:58
10. Adrien Metge (FRA), Honda, 43:28:11, +03:19:41

20. Frans Verhoeven (NLD), Yamaha, 05:58:52, +00:39:44
38. Bruno Da Costa (FRA), Yamaha,  06:52:47, +01:33:39
43. Javier Mauricio Gomez (ARG), Yamaha, 07:07:32, +01:48:24