Strong Start to Africa Eco Race for Ténéré World Raid Team
The Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team, in partnership with Riders for Health, enjoyed a positive opening day as they completed the first stage of the Africa Eco Race with Alessandro Botturi in fourth and Pol Tarrés seventh.
On Friday, the team arrived in Menton, France, ahead of a day of technical checks and administration on Saturday, before heading to Monte Carlo for the official race start in the evening. Riders Botturi and Tarres were introduced to the thousands of fans who had turned up to wish them luck as they rode through the ceremonial arch that signifies the beginning of the rally, which covers over 6,000 km during 12 stages, before ending beside the legendary Lac Rose in Dakar.
From there, they headed 400km down the coastline to Sete for the 40-hour boat ride to Nador in Morocco, as they returned their GYTR-kitted Ténéré 700 World Raid bikes to their spiritual home in Africa with the aim to become the first team to complete the rally on a twin-cylinder motorcycle. Immediately as they disembarked the ferry on Tuesday morning, Botturi and Tarres set off on a 117.94km liaison to the first timed Special Stage, starting in Taourirt and ending in El Atef. Ahead of the duo was 93.97km of sandy tracks and rocky terrain in the searing heat of the Moroccan sun, with the dust making navigation difficult, especially as both riders set off in the top three and did not have any tracks to aid with finding their way.
The experienced Botturi, winner of the last to editions of the rally, powered through the gravel and dust to secure fourth overall and first in the 700B class, with a time of 1:33.02, just seven minutes and 49 seconds behind the leader. His teammate Pol Tarrés, competing in just his second rally event, showed his potential as the 29-year-old Spaniard completed the stage in a time of 1:37.14 to secure seventh, 12 minutes and one second off the fastest rider and second in class.
After completing the timed Special Stage, the riders had a 393.27km liaison to the bivouac in Bousaid before beginning the preparations for the challenging 447.95km Stage 2 on Wednesday.
If you would like to emulate Botturi and Tarres and take on your own adventure, 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 bikes used by the team. To find out more and enter the prize draw, click here.
Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team
“Today was a great way to start the rally. While it was only a 94km timed stage, the rocky terrain and dusty conditions made it tough to navigate, and there was over 500km of liaisons. I am happy because starting from second; it is very easy to make a mistake and lose your way. My Ténéré performed brilliantly even in the hot and dusty conditions, and despite a rider in front of me making a mistake, I stayed focused, and I am happy to have finished in fourth and as the first in my class. There is a long way to go, and we are not thinking about the overall result, as our aim is to reach the finish line in Dakar. Tomorrow’s stage will be even tougher, as it is almost 450km, but I am excited to get back on the back and see what we can do.”
Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team
“Today was a long day but a really good one. It was a tricky stage; navigating was tough in the dusty conditions, but I am happy I did not make a mistake. I am happy for the team, too; after all the hard work they have put in, to have both riders in the overall top ten is great. Right now, we aren’t really thinking about the results, we just want to take each stage at a time, but obviously, it’s a nice feeling. I am looking forward to the second stage tomorrow already.”
Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team – Team Manager
“Today, the real race started. I am thrilled with how both Pol and Alessandro performed today, achieving an amazing top 10 overall result and first and second in the +700 class. Today was a good stage to evaluate the level of our team and the other competitors. To immediately be leading is a great feeling, but we want to focus only on having the riders enjoy themselves and reaching the finish line by Lac Rose in Dakar. So the plan for Stage 2 is to ride consistently and find a good rhythm.”