There was no stopping the X-raid Yamaha Supported Team’s Ignacio Casale and Alvaro Leon as they charged to their fourth consecutive podium, after finishing the 13th stage of the Dakar Rally in second, with Ricardo Porém and Augusto Sanz making it two YXZ1000R Turbo Prototypes in the top four.
Stage 13, the penultimate day at the 45th edition of the Dakar, saw the five remaining X-raid developed YXZ1000R Turbo Prototypes face a short liaison of 9km from Shaybah to the start of the 153km timed special before a 511km liaison to the bivouac in Al-Hofuf in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. After the punishing Empty Quarter marathon, the competitors had one last dance in the dunes before taking on the final stage on Sunday, a sprint along the beach to Dammam.
Once again, the Chilean duo of Casale and Leon led the way for the team, battling for the stage victory during the entire special. Still chasing their first win, the former three-time champion in the Quad category and his co-driver finished agonisingly close to victory once more, with just 50 seconds separating them from the top step of the podium after setting a time of two hours, 41 minutes and 58 seconds. Retaining tenth position in the general classification, they are less than 30 minutes behind the team ahead of them and have an almost three-hour advantage over their rivals behind.
Portuguese Porém, competing in his fourth Dakar, and rookie Argentinean co-driver Sanz, who led home a Yamaha 1-2-3 on Stage 11, continued their rich vein of form as they secured fourth, less than six minutes behind their teammates. This saw the pairing move up one position in the overall standings to 12th, with a 14-minute gap to the vehicle behind and just one stage left.
Ahmed Alkuwari Fahad (QAT) and Manuel Lucchese (ITA) ensured another good stage finish, as they completed the special in 21st and moved up one spot in the general classification to 17th. The duo are competing in their first Dakar together and have shown superb consistency in finishing every stage. They now have a two-hour lead over the driver behind them in the overall standings as they aim to complete their goal of finishing the rally in the top 20.
Dakar Rookie and Stage 8 winners João Ferreira (PRT) and Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) had an electrical issue that saw them lose over an hour before finishing in 38th after receiving a 50-hour penalty for changing their engine overnight. The Portuguese crew have already failed to finish two stages and, therefore, will not be counted in the official final classification. Still, they are also competing in the 2023 World Rally Raid Championship (W2RC), of which the Dakar is the first round. The final stage gives them another chance to add to the 20 points they have scored already to ensure they get the season off to the best possible start, with the pairing currently fifth in the W2RC standings.
It was another challenging day for Dakar Legend Camelia Liparoti (ITA) and her co-driver Xavier Blanco (ESP) as they experienced a repeat of the technical issue that saw them fail to finish Stage 12. Competing in her 14th consecutive edition of the rally, the Italian was forced to stop after 30km during Saturday’s special and could not continue, resulting in a stage time of 23 hours. Disappointed not to be counted as an official finisher after her issues on Friday, she aims to complete the rally in the strongest way possible during the final stage.
The 2023 Dakar Rally ends on Sunday after over 4,000km of timed segments that have seen the competitors traverse the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The final stage involves a 167km liaison from the bivouac in Al-Hofuf, which leads to the last timed special, a 138km race along the beach, before a final 100km liaison to the podium in Dammam.
Usually, the last stage at the Dakar sees little movement in the general classification. However, with overnight thunderstorms in the Al-Hofuf region, there could still be some twists and turns to come.
Yamaha Motor Europe ROV Racing Coordinator
“I am very proud and happy for the three crews left in the official race. Ignacio, Ricardo, and Ahmed have all been superb. To score four podiums in a row during some of the most demanding stages the Dakar has thrown at us in recent memory shows just how good Ignacio is, and also the potential of the X-raid developed Yamaha YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype. Ricardo was again superb to score another good finish, just missing out on the podium, while Ahmed has been consistency personified. I am disappointed not to finish the stage again; I have had a series of small issues that just snowballed, and today, I had to stop after 30km, but this is Dakar. We have one more stage to go, and normally it is a nice sprint to the finish line, but with the overnight rain predicted, it could still be an exciting finish. I am so proud of how far this project has come. We have just one more day to go before the Dakar draws to a close, and we are aiming to finish it on a high.”
Dakar Rally 2023
Stage 13 Provisional Results
- I.Casale & A.Leon 2h 41m 58s +50s
- R.Porém & A.Sanz 2h 47m 34s +6m 27s
- A.Alkuwari Fahad & M.Lucchese 3h 15m 26s +34m 18s
- C.Liparoti & X.Blanco 23h 00m 00s +20h 18m 52s
- J.Ferreira & F.Palmeiro 54h 26m 57s +51h 45m 49s
- I.Casale & A.Leon 57h 30m 21s +6h 58m 22s
- R.Porém & A.Sanz 61h 18m 30s +10h 46m 31s
- A.Alkuwari Fahad & M.Lucchese 67h 37m 54s +17h 05m 55s
- C.Liparoti & X.Blanco 115h 05m 52s +64h 33m 53s
- J.Ferreira & F.Palmeiro 174h 28m 04s +123h 56m 05s