6-time FIM Women’s Cross-Country Rallies World Cup winner Q&A

Yamaha YXZ1000R prototype

Chance for YXZ1000R Racers to Earn Wildcard 2021 SuperFinale Spot at Andalucía Rally

Launched by Yamaha Motor Europe in 2019, and despite a disrupted season in 2020 due to the crisis, the YXZ1000R European Cup has continued to grow in popularity. Although the Andalucía Rally is not officially part of the Cup, the winner will be given a wildcard entry to the prestigious YXZ SuperFinale, while there will also be the first-ever YXZ Rally Academy, designed to give support to both experienced and rookie YXZ1000R racers.

YXZ1000R European Cup co-ordinator and six-time FIM Women’s Cross-Country Rallies World Cup winner, Camelia Liparoti, who also finished second in the T3 category at the 2021 Dakar Rally, explains what the YXZ1000R European Cup and SuperFinale is, how people can get involved, and how she’s seen the Cup develop over the years.

Where do the YXZ000R Cup rounds take place?

CL: There are YXZ Cups in several different countries around Europe, we had seven participating in 2019: Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, the UK and Israel. For this year, we have added Sweden and Finland to that list. They have national cups and the SuperFinale, which is organised by Yamaha Motor Europe in Portalegre at the end of the year.

How do the YXZ1000R Cups and SuperFinale work and what are the on-site benefits?

CL: When our customers register for the national cups, they race within existing races, there’s no specific YXZ1000R-exclusive events at national level. For example, in the SuperFinale, we race at the Baja Portalegre 500, it’s a big race and we can have a good presence, while benefitting from the high-level of safety and organisation. It’s the same in the national cups, Cup racers pay a fee to the distributor. They get a welcome pack, some Yamalube, and in every race that the YXZ Cup is involved with, there will be Yamaha tent, a mechanic and a dealer, so if they need any other parts that they don’t have, they can get these parts from the dealer at the races. Our teams and competitors are very happy with this. The aim of the YXZ Cup is to create this racing family spirit, and we are the only ones out of our competitors to offer this kind of experience.

Who tends to race in these YXZ1000R Cups?

CL: We cater to everyone really! There are many ex-quad bikers, like myself, who race in the YXZ Cup. It feels like the logical step, because with the YXZ1000R it doesn’t have an independent suspension at the back, so it’s similar in a way to the quad bike. It’s quite natural for us to make this step. We also see interest from car drivers; they can afford to spend money on a car, but if you’re not in an official team, there’s no chance of winning. Whereas in Side-by-Side racing, for example this year I got second overall in the T3 category at Dakar. I don’t have a car background, but there’s still a good level of competition and you have a chance of fighting for wins. If you aren’t too slow, you take care of your vehicle and you have a good team, mechanics and assistance, you can still aim for a strong result. Lots of car drivers have decided to move one step below, with a smaller budget, because it’s more fun – you’re not enclosed at all, so it’s closer to a quad bike or motorbike experience, and you feel more in touch with the environment.

There’s also a certain age of motorcycle racers that are interested. It’s safer, there’s a roll cage, it’s more comfortable, you don’t have to train like hell physically to be ready for the Dakar or a Cross Country Rally, like you would on a motorbike. It’s a very niche category, we have gears which is unusual for Side-by-Sides, and it’s important to remember that this isn’t something you can just take out one weekend. The YXZ1000R Cup is a motorsport and these vehicles are built to be raced.

How do customers find out about the YXZ Cup on the national scale?

CL: The situation isn’t the same for every country participating in the YXZ Cup. The first country that introduced this Cup was Spain. The distributor spent a lot of time working with the dealers, training them to make sure they give their customers the right information on what to do with their YXZ1000Rs. Portugal was next to go in that direction and so I developed this for all countries that have a YXZ Cup. Countries like Italy or the UK hired a third party to have a direct contact with the drivers and organise the logistics. We created this little family in 2019, which we’re starting to see become bigger and bigger. We made a lot of noise about the SuperFinale and even the other brands are hearing about us. We have customers who sold their other race cars to get the YXZ1000R because of the family spirit, the enjoyable experience and also the prizes – the winner of the SuperFinale will also get a YXZ1000R for themselves.

How have you seen the YXZ1000R Cups grow over the last few years?

CL: After the SuperFinale in 2019, we had a big boom, a lot of interest and a lot of good ideas. I was so happy to see the teams all working together, but then unfortunately 2020 cut our wings a little bit, but our drivers are super keen to go back racing. Spain, Portugal and Germany have already published their calendars, and it looks like everyone will start in May. The fact that we’ve had Sweden and Finland come on board proves that there’s a growing interest around Europe. In each country we’ve had an increased number of entries, so it means that our customers are interested in this YXZ Cup and to belong to our family, with an aim towards the SuperFinale.

About the YXZ Rally Academy

New for 2021, the YXZ Rally Academy is fully supported by Yamaha Motor Europe, and gives all rookies and experienced drivers the chance to benefit from the world class knowledge of a dedicated driving coach, allowing them to improve their driving and navigation skills.

The first YXZ Rally Academy will take place at the Andalucía Rally and aspects of the coaching received include how to use the Unik II GPS for navigation and tips on reading a roadbook, as well as the new electronic roadbook, analyses of any navigation errors after each stage, the use of Iritrack and rules on safety, and what it takes to prepare and manage a rally event. This coaching will be done by six-time Dakar Rally podium finisher (Motorbike class) Jordi Arcarons, who’s trained the likes of Nani Roma, Marc Coma, Laia Sanz, Jordi Viladoms and Gerard Farres.

 

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