Yamaha Motor Europe is delighted to announce the expansion of its SSV race program with the inaugural Yamaha Desert Challenge that will feature two classes, Race and Raid, and will take place alongside the Carta Rallye in Morocco from the 5th to the 9th of March 2024.
Following the ongoing success of the YXZ1000R European Cup, which was launched in 2019 and has gone from strength to strength each year, with the 2023 edition featuring a record number of entries and culminating in the SuperFinale held at the Baja Portalegre, the Yamaha Desert Challenge is a completely new event which is open to all Yamaha SSVs.
The Yamaha Desert Challenge will take place alongside the final four stages of the eighth edition of the Carta Rallye, traversing from Merzouga to M’Hamid over four days, and will consist of two categories: Race and Raid.
The Race class is open to race-ready YXZ1000Rs that meet the Carta Rallye entry criteria, with teams in this category taking on the full special stages but within their own dedicated classification.
The Raid category runs in parallel to the Race class and is open to all Yamaha SSVs. It is designed to give participants a taste of what it is like to compete in a rally without the demands of having to complete the entire special stage. Instead, the Raid crews will take on shorter and less demanding routes, with guides leading the way as they experience the thrills and excitement of a rally raid without the pressure of competing against the clock.
Ahead of the first stage, all entrants will also benefit from a special Yamaha Academy, designed to prepare them for the demands of the Moroccan dunes with expert coaches hosting training sessions that will cover the essentials of how to drive in the soft sand, tips on navigation, first aid training, and more.
There will also be an area in the paddock dedicated exclusively to the Yamaha Desert Challenge teams, plus a special prizegiving ceremony for both classes after the final stage. On top of this, the first 12 vehicles registered for the event will also be eligible to receive free Yamaha technical assistance and support at each bivouac.
Yamaha Motor Europe ROV Racing Coordinator
“I am excited to announce the Yamaha Desert Challenge. After an incredible year in 2023, which saw 27 crews racing against each other in the YXZ1000R European Cup SuperFinale at the Baja Portalegre, it is time to expand our SSV program with this exclusive new event. It feels like a natural progression; with the YXZ1000R European Cup giving drivers and co-drivers a chance to experience driving across the continent, the next logical step was to provide them with the opportunity to taste what it is like to compete in Africa and experience the spectacular Moroccan dunes. I am delighted to have the two categories because the Race class will allow our more experienced crews to judge their potential as they compete alongside the main Carta Rallye participants but within their own separate classification. In contrast, the Raid class gives us a chance to allow newer teams to gain experience of what it is like to take part in an African rally raid but in a structured, guided way and without any of the stress. Everyone who takes part will also benefit from the exclusive Yamaha Academy, with expert coaches helping them prepare for the challenge ahead; plus, they will experience what it is like to be a part of the Yamaha Racing family with our own special area in the paddock and dedicated support.”