A total of 18 YXZ1000R crews from six different European nations took to the ceremonial start gate in the centre of Portalegre in Portugal on Thursday evening, to officially get the 2021 Yamaha YXZ1000R European Cup SuperFinale underway.
The race action started on Friday, with a short prologue of 3.5km close to the bivouac giving the 18 YXZ1000R crews their first experience of the terrain around Portalegre. Despite overnight rain ending two days of gloriously sunny weather, the prologue stage proved to be in ideal condition and fast times resulted.
It was the British pairing of Sean and Kevin Haran who were fastest in the prologue in the stock class, posting a time of 3’25.7, while the Portuguese crew of Antonio Resina de Carvalho and Teofilo Castro Duarte were fastest in the open class with a time of 3’13.2.
With the prologue completed the field then drove a 63km liaison to the town of Ponte de Sor for their only stop of the opening day, before tackling the 66km special stage to Alter do Chão. The Haran brothers lost their advantage on special stage 2 and it was the Spanish pairing of Javier Alarcon Riviera and Francisco Javier who returned to Parc Fermé leading the YXZ SuperFinale stock class.
The scenario was very different for Resina de Carvalho and co-driver Castro Duarte, the leaders in the open category after the prologue. The Portuguese duo encountered a technical problem 40km into special stage 2 that left them down on power and forced to limp back to Parc Fermé to stay in the race. An impressive drive on SS2 by their compatriots, Mario Franco and Nuno Guilherme, saw them finish the day at the head of the YXZ SuperFinale open class standings, despite having had to repair a broken driveshaft during the prologue stage.
Former Yamaha Factory MXGP rider, Gautier Paulin, impressed on his YXZ1000R debut in Portalegre. The 31-year-old Frenchman, five times a member of the winning team at the prestigious Monster Energy Motocross of Nations, finished the opening day second overall in the YXZ SuperFinale stock class, despite his lack of wheel time in an SSV.
Amerigo Ventura and co-driver Mirko Brun finished the opening day second in the FIA T4 class in their GYTR kitted YXZ1000R, while Simone De Martini and Lucio Baggio were 10th in in their similarly kitted SSV.
Friday’s results determine the order that the YXZ1000R field starts on Saturday, meaning that Buller and McPhee, as the overall fastest in the SuperFinale, will be the first YXZ1000R to start day two, which will see the crews tackle two special stages covering 345km.