Historic Day for Yamaha as Ferreira & Palmeiro Claim Stage 8 Victory at Dakar
X-raid Yamaha Supported Team’s Dakar Rookie João Ferreira and his co-driver Filipe Palmeiro created history by taking the first T3 victory for Yamaha, making the Japanese constructor the first to achieve stage wins in the Car, Motorcycle, and Quad categories at the Dakar Rally.
Yamaha’s YXZ1000R Dakar project is only in its third year, with 2023 seeing the introduction of the new turbocharged version of the 998cc triple-cylinder side-by-side vehicle. Incredibly, with it being the vehicle and the driver’s debut in the race, 23-year-old Ferreira, who had already secured two podiums in this year’s Dakar Rally, powered to the T3 Lightweight Prototype Class victory during Stage 8 in Saudi Arabia.
The feat is even more impressive because Stage 8 was the second part of an impromptu marathon segment that was only announced during the seventh stage due to torrential rain and flooding around Riyadh. This meant the crews had to spend the night in the desert away from their teams after completing Saturday’s stage, with only a two-hour window for assistance.
The stage was over 800km long and started with a 95km liaison from the marathon bivouac at Al Duwadimi to the start of the 346km timed special, which mainly consisted of muddy trails and soft sand, with some dunes and rocky sections thrown in for good measure, along with puddles caused from the previous day’s rain. After completing the special, there was another 388km liaison back to the bivouac in Riyadh, where the crews were reunited with their teams ahead of Monday’s rest day.
The Japanese manufacturer has a rich history of racing at the Dakar Rally, with Cyril Neveu winning the first-ever edition of the race in 1979 on his XT500 in the motorcycle class. In total, Yamaha has nine overall victories, 140 stage wins to its name on two wheels, and has achieved complete domination in the Quad category with 14 consecutive titles since its inception in 2009.
Having withdrawn from the motorcycle class after the 2022 edition, Ferreira kept up Yamaha’s winning tradition at Dakar by writing his name in the record books after a historic victory in his X-raid developed Yamaha YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype.
The Portuguese driver, racing in his first Dakar alongside his more experienced compatriot Palmeiro, had signalled his potential by finishing second on Stage 4 and third on Stage 7. The young talent is driving with the freedom of having nothing to lose after he was unable to complete the third stage due to being caught out by the flooding that has affected the 2023 Dakar, which, unfortunately, means he will not be counted as an official Dakar finisher at the end of the rally.
Making his cross-country debut in 2019, the 2022 FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas T1 Champion is determined to make up for that disappointment and is demonstrating to the world just how good he is. Starting from third, he took the lead on Sunday from the 90km waypoint and never looked back. With 51km left, he had amassed a lead of one minute and 47 seconds, although there was still some drama to come. In a tense finish, he held his nerve to take a superb maiden stage victory by 17 seconds in the end, surely the first of many more to come, with a time of four hours, 11 minutes, and 26 seconds.
The Chilean pairing of Dakar Legend and three-time winner of the quad category, Ignacio Casale, and his co-driver Alvaro Leon continued their fightback in the general classification. They were in second for the majority of the stage before a puncture. Still, they fought back to record consecutive fifth-place finishes after another strong drive, meaning there were two YXZ1000R Turbo Prototypes in the top five for the second day in a row. This means they are tenth overall, having closed the gap to the cars in front by over an hour, with six stages still to go.
Ricardo Porém (PRT) and Augusto Sanz (ARG) bounced back brilliantly from a minor crash on Stage 7 that saw them lose time to finish Sunday in 14th. Dakar Legend Camelia Liparoti (ITA), competing in her 14th consecutive Dakar, and co-driver Xavier Blanco were hit by a competitor in the Truck class during the special but recovered superbly to complete the stage in 23rd.
2022 Women’s Trophy winners Annett Fischer (DEU) and Annie Seel (SWE) had another solid drive without any issues to end the stage in 25th as the leading all-female crew in the T3 class, just ahead of teammates Ahmed Alkuwari Fahad (QAT) and Manuel Lucchese (ITA) in 28th.
Monday is the official rest day of the 45th edition of the Dakar Rally before the action resumes on Tuesday with Stage 9m which features 328km of liaisons and a 358km special as the bivouac travels from Riyadh to Haradh.
X-raid Yamaha Supported Team
“I am overjoyed! My first Dakar stage win, and that in my first Dakar participation. That makes this success something extraordinary. It was a great stage for us. We found a perfect pace right from the start. We reached the finish without any problems and with a great result. A big thank you and congratulations to the X-Raid team and my co-driver Filipe Palmeiro. To create history like this, with the first stage win for Yamaha, X-raid, and the YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype, is amazing. Yamaha has such an incredible history in motorsport; to become a part of that and to help them become the first manufacturer to win stages in the Car, Motorcycle, and Quad class is something I will never forget.”
Yamaha Motor Europe ROV Racing Coordinator
“Dreams really do come true! We have been working hard for two and half years for this, and we believed that this project had the potential to win, and today we proved that. There are no words to describe my emotions. When I finished the special, on the liaison back to the bivouac, I checked the results, and my reaction was wow. What a job by João, he has written his name in the record books, and it is a day Yamaha will never forget. We almost had a 1-2 with Ignacio too, so it was another great day for the team. The issues we had at the start of the Dakar are hopefully in the past, as we now are beginning to understand the new YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype, how to drive it, and how to look after it on these punishing stages. I think today showed the potential of the whole project, but there is still a long way to go to the finish line. We will enjoy the rest day and come back fighting for Stage 9.”
Dakar Rally 2023
Stage 8 Provisional Results
1. J.Ferreira & F.Palmeiro 4h 11m 36s
5. I.Casale & A.Leon 4h 14m 51s +3m 15s
14. R.Porém & A.Sanz 4h 26m 31s +14m 55s
23. C.Liparoti & X.Blanco 5h 02m 49s +51m 13s
25. A.Fischer & A.Seel 5h 10m 49s +59m 13s
28. A.Alkuwari Fahad & M.Lucchese 5h 20m 06s +1h 08m 30s
10. I.Casale & A.Leon 42h 51m 26s +6h 48m 17s
14. A.Fischer & A.Seel 45h 57m 57s +9h 54m 48s
17. R.Porém & A.Sanz 47h 10m 27s +11h 07m 18s
19. A.Alkuwari Fahad & M.Lucchese 48h 52m 32s +12h 49m 23s
20. C.Liparoti & X.Blanco 49h 13m 03s +13h 09m 54s
37. J.Ferreira & F.Palmeiro 80h 56m 51s +44h 53m 42s