Dunes During Stage 7 Africa Eco Race

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Teamwork Helps the Ténéré World Raid Team Master the Dunes During Stage 7 at the Africa Eco Race

The Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team enjoyed another strong day as the Africa Eco Race finally began its Mauritanian leg. Pol Tarrés and his teammate Alessandro Botturi worked together to conquer the challenging conditions, finishing in sixth and seventh, respectively, with just a minute to separate them.

The Africa Eco Race entered Mauritania from Morocco on Monday morning with a 429.15km liaison from Dakhla to Boulanour. Unfortunately, after a three-hour delay at the start of the stage, the special had to be cancelled because the medical helicopter could not fly due to the inclement weather conditions, with the team heading to the bivouac in Chami.

Tuesday’s Stage 7 featured a 19.9km liaison to the start of the 470.16km special and marked a real turning point of the rally. Gone were the fast rocky tracks the riders had gotten used to in Morocco. Instead, they faced a stage conducted almost entirely in the notoriously soft dunes of Mauritania before another 24.6km liaison to the bivouac in Akjoujt, as the difficulty level of the race stepped up a gear.

Pol Tarrés, competing in just his second rally, used all of his skill on his Tenere 700 World Raid machine to skip across the dunes in style, despite competing against the lighter 450cc machines, which have an advantage in these conditions. In a great example of teamwork, the Spaniard rode with his teammate Botturi for the entire stage, knowing just how complex and dangerous the dunes can be, especially with temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius.

The 29-year-old finished the special in sixth with a time of five hours, 59 minutes and six seconds, one hour, 2 minutes and 38 seconds behind the stage winner. This sees Tarrés maintain his fifth position in the general classification and extend his lead at the top of the +700 class with a combined time of 31 hours, 28 minutes and 31 seconds.

Having decided to ride together, Botturi used his navigational expertise to guide the duo through the barren desert, where a lack of visual markers, combined with the physical exertion of riding in the dunes, means it is easy to make a mistake and lose a lot of time.

The 47-year-old Italian has won the last two editions of the Africa Eco Race and, having completed seven Dakar rallies, has lots of experience riding in dunes. Botturi finished the stage in seventh alongside his teammate, with a time of six hours and six seconds. “Bottu” remains P7 in the overall standings and second in the +700 class, having racked up a combined time of 33 hours, 44 minutes and 26 seconds. More importantly, Botturi now has opened up an advantage of two hours, 30 minutes and 31 seconds over his nearest class rival, with the Ténéré World Raid Team currently locking out the top two +700 positions.

Would you like to win the same bike that Botturi and Tarrés are competing on in the Africa Eco Race? If so, Yamaha Motor Europe has teamed up with Riders for Health, powered by Two Wheels for Life, to give you a chance to win one of the official rally-spec Ténéré 700 World Raid machines used by the team. To find out more about the project and enter the prize draw, click here.

Pol Tarrés
Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team
“Today was an important day for us, our first stage in Mauritania, and wow, was it tough. There were a lot of very soft dunes, so it was a real test for our Ténéré 700 World Raid bikes against our lighter rivals, and it passed with flying colours. We did it! We decided as a team that Alessandro and I would ride together on this stage due to the harsh conditions, extreme heat, and the fact that any mistake could be critical for the rally. This was a really intelligent decision, just in case we needed to help each other, and it worked perfectly. It just shows how important teamwork can be in a rally, and I am lucky to have a teammate like Alessandro. Right now, I am exhausted, but after some food and rest, I will be ready for more dunes on Stage 8.”

Alessandro Botturi
Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team
“Today, the stage was very tough. A 470km special stage that was almost entirely made of dunes. Here in Mauritania, the soft sand can make it so easy to crash, or to get lost, so we decided that Pol and I would ride together. This plan worked perfectly, and we could ride fast and without too much risk, but it was still physically tough due to the dunes and heat. To finish in sixth, alongside Pol, was nice, and I am seventh in the general and second in class with a two and half hour advantage over the next +700 rider, so I am feeling good for Stage 8 tomorrow. As always, we remain focused as a team on arriving at the finish line in Dakar with both bikes.”

Manuel Lucchese
Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team
“I am pleased about the strategy we used today, and I am proud that the riders have really worked together and thought about the best way to approach the next stages. The plan is for them to ride all the next stages together, as the dunes are so hard and challenging, so they can help each other out and ensure that we get both bikes to the finish line and become the first twin-cylinder adventure bikes to complete the Africa Eco Race. Even if they are riding together, they are still riding very fast, as you can see by the fact they finished the stage in sixth and seventh overall. We must keep up the hard work, as Stage 8 tomorrow is another tough special.”

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