Today’s seventh stage of the Dakar Rally was crucial for Yamaha’s riders as they were strongly committed to reversing the order that was established in the first days of the competition, before the rest day in Salta. However, stormy weather hampered their efforts when the special got shortened. Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team’s rider Hélder Rodrigues ended up in fifth place and Alessandro Botturi in twentieth, whilst the Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team’s Adrien Van Beveren and Xavier De Soultrait signed off the first week of Dakar in 17th and 23rd position respectively.

Dakar Rally’s seventh stage was the testing last challenge before the end of the first week of racing. The participants had to travel a total length of 817 kilometres, but the storm that spoiled the first stage made a strong comeback and forced the organisation to stop the race at the second timed section and a decision to stop was made, taking into account the bad route conditions. While today’s stage saw some big names disappearing from the timesheets, the Yamaha riders kept their tempo up and rode a safe race, bringing their bikes from Bolivia to Argentina in good shape. They got their feet wet, crossing rivers and enduring rainfall, and finally arrived in Salta’s bivouac in convoy on an alternative itinerary.

Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team’s Rodrigues had to wait to get over the flu to fully express his talent on the Dakar Rally aboard his WR450F Rally, but was stopped on track by the storm. Despite the extreme weather, the Portuguese rider climbed up the order as Dakar hits its mid-way stage and ended up fifth at the shortened seventh stage. He secured seventh position in the general standings, which bodes well for the upcoming second week of the race.

Rodrigues’ teammate, Alessandro Botturi, still in pain due to a wrist injury, put the WR450F Rally power to good use today. Not taking any unnecessary risks, he rode a cautious race to secure twentieth place. He will take full advantage of tomorrow’s rest day in Salta to take care of his body and attack next week stronger.

Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team’s Van Beveren had a consistent start during the first week, which proved to be key. Finding his groove over the stages, having a thrilling experience and learning all the subtleties of the world’s toughest rally, he finished in 17th position today. He holds 14th in the overall classification, not far behind fellow Yamaha rider, Botturi, in 13th, which is satisfactory to the team and encouraging for the stages to come.

Teammate De Soultrait gave his all to show that he has what it takes to do well on the 2016 series of Dakar. Surprised by the sudden cancellation of the second half of today’s race, he ended up in 23rd position. The Frenchman expects a lot from next week and stays confident for a comeback. He stands currently 28th in the overall rankings.

After yesterday’s good results, the Patronelli brothers were determined to make an even bigger impact on today’s seventh stage, until the whole order was shuffled. Three competitors passed the duo, leaving Alejandro and Marcos off the podium at the arrival in Salta, in fourth and fifth position respectively. However, the Patronelli siblings can be satisfied with their good and consistent overall results in Dakar’s first week: they are still in first and second place in the overall classification.

Having arrived at the bivouac, the riders have now earned a rest day, while their mechanics will repair their bikes and prepare them for the second week.

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

5th /+00:04:28, overall 7th /+00:22:44

“I kept the tempo up and stayed with the frontrunners today. I rode fast and the WR450F Rally handled well until the finish. I’m happy to end this week in better physical shape, with no major problem or issue with the bike and in a good overall position. I need to attack stronger during the second week to conclude this Dakar well for me and the whole Yamaha team.”

Alessandro Botturi, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team

20th /+00:07:49, overall 13th /+00:39:37

“Today’s special was a bit dangerous but I am glad that the whole team handled it well. We will take full advantage of tomorrow’s rest day to attack the second week with a good basis. Experience has taught me that it’s better to take it one day at a time and that the efforts given during the second week are decisive for the overall result.”

Adrien Van Beveren, Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team

17th /+00:06:34, overall 14th /+00:41:52

“I had a good rhythm on today’s special but I made a navigation mistake and lost a few minutes. I’m a bit disappointed about today’s result but at the same time I am keeping my head up as I safely completed my first week ever on the Dakar. I’m learning step by step alongside my teammates and the whole Yamaha crew supports me a lot.”

Xavier De Soultrait, Yamalube Yamaha Junior Rally Team

23th /+00:08:28, overall 28th /+01:16:15

“I had a good rhythm today! Unfortunately the second section of the special was cancelled and we had to stop right on the track. I could have passed some more competitors and climbed up to a better position. Tomorrow is not really a rest day for me, just more of a day “off” in terms of racing. I will go for a run and stay focused on the competition.” 

Alexandre Kowalski, Yamalube Yamaha Rally Teams Director

“Today we had a long stage before a restorative rest day in Salta, that all the riders and the team deserve. It’s a pity that the special was shortened as the riders had a good tempo and were making progress in the second section; the truncated stage affected the results, but that’s the rule for a race under these circumstances. It is also a source of satisfaction for Yamaha to have the four riders in good shape after one week of tough racing. We will have a rest tomorrow and prepare for the next stages in the best way possible. The second week will be way different from the past one: we’re expecting different characteristics, with sand and dunes, favourable for those riders that are good in navigation. We should keep focused so as not to make any mistakes and conclude this Dakar well next week.”

Dakar Rally Classification of Stage 7

1. Antoine Méo (FRA), KTM, 02:27:27
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 02:29:20, +00:01:53
3. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT), Honda, 02:29:23, +00:01:56
4. Michael Metge (FRA), Honda, 02:31:18, +00:03:51
5.Hélder Rodrigues (PRT), Yamaha, 02:31:55, +00:04:28
6. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 02:32:00, +00:04:33
7. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 02:32:19, +00:04:52
8. Txomin Arana (ESP), Huqsvarana, 02:32:30, +00:05:03
9. Ivan Cervantes Montero (ESP), KTM, 02:33:00, +00:05:33
10. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), KTM, 02:33:28, +00:06:01
11. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, 02:33:30, +00:06:03
12. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 02:33:44, +00:06:17
13. Armand Monleon (ESP), KTM, 02:33:44, +00:06:17
14. Olivier Pain (FRA), KTM, 02:33:45, +00:06:18
15. Alain Duclos (FRA), Sherco TVS, 02:33:46, +00:06:19
16. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP), Sherco TVS, 02:33:51, +00:06:24
17.Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 02:34:01, +00:06:34
18. Adrien Metge (FRA), Honda, 02:34:11, +00:06:44
19. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 02:34:30, +00:07:03
20.Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 02:35:16, +00:07:49
21. Frans Verhoeven (NLD), Yamaha, 02:35:42, +00:08:15
22. Mario Patrao (PRT), KTM, 02:35:53, +00:08:26
23.Xavier De Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 02:35:55, +00:08:28
44. Bruno Da Costa (FRA), Yamaha, 02:47:38, +00:20:11
49. Mauricio Javier Gomez (ARG), Yamaha, 02:52:33, +00:25:06

Dakar Rally General Classification of Event after Leg 7

1. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT), Honda, 22:52:30
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 22:55:42, +00:03:12
3. Stefan Skitvo (SVK), KTM, 23:01:54, + 00:09:24
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 23:10:36, +00:18:06
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 23:13:31, +00:21:01
6. Antoine Méo (FRA), KTM, 23:13:36, +00:21:06
7.Hélder Rodrigues (PRT), Yamaha, 23:15:14, +00:22:44
8. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), KTM, 23:22:27, +00:29:57
9. Alain Duclos (FRA), Sherco TVS, 23:23:02, +00:30:32
10. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP), Sherco TVS, 23:24:15, +00:31:15
11. Txomin Arana (ESP), Huqsvarna, 23:26:26, +00:33:56
12. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 23:30:37, +00:38:07
13.Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 23:32:07, +00:39:37
Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 23:34:22, +00:41:52
15. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 23:37:06, +00:44:36
16. Michael Metge (FRA), Honda, 23:42:56, +00:50:26
17. Jordi Viladoms (ESP), KTM, 23:46:29, +00:53:59
18. Ivan Cervantes Montero (ESP), KTM, 23:48:29, +00:55:59
19. Adrien Metge (FRA), Honda, 23:55:56, +00:50:26
20. Emanuel Gyenes (ROU), KTM, 23:57:16, +01:04:46
28. Xavier De Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 24:08:45, +01:16:15
42. Bruno Da Costa (FRA), Yamaha, 25:59:29, +0:06:59
73. Mauricio Javier Gomez (ARG), Yamaha, 28:46:52, 05:54:22