With the first of twelve gruelling stages of the 2017 Dakar Rally kicking off today, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team quartet of Hélder Rodrigues, Adrien Van Beveren, Alessandro Botturi and Rodney Faggotter are all-set and ready to begin their battle for top honours in this two-week-long adventure in Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.
For all Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team members the 2017 Dakar Rally adventure officially started as soon as they landed in Asunción a few days back. Meeting up with their teammates, mechanics and team personnel they immediately started preparing themselves for the biggest and toughest rally in the annual calendar.
Spending a significant amount of time testing their WR450F Rally bikes outside Paraguay's capital, all four Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team riders made the necessary final adjustments in order to gain optimum confidence on their racing machines ahead of the race.
The pre-run to the race came to a close with a very busy Sunday, where team members went through administrative and technical checks, attended the final pre-race briefing and then rode their Yamaha machines through the starting podium in front of Asunción's historical Palacio de Lopez presidential palace.
In a couple of hours the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team four-member squad, along with Xavier de Soultrait, Manuel Lucchese and 40 more Yamaha supported motorcycle, quad and UTV racers will get down to business with the opening stage in Asunción.
Including a short special stage of 39km, day one of the 2017 Dakar Rally features a total of 454km until the next bivouac in Resistencia, Argentina. It will be a small first step into the 8,818km towards the finish line in Buenos Aires.
Hélder RodriguesYamalube Yamaha Official Team rider
The wait is over and we're now ready to start the Dakar. This might be my 11th participation in the event, but the feeling of anticipation is always the same. This year we've worked really hard with the team and that gives me extra confidence to battle for a good result. We have an amazing bike and a well-structured team with each one of us knowing exactly what they need to do. It feels great to be part of the Dakar once again. The race will be long but the plan is to use my experience to our advantage. If everything goes according to plan, I think we have a pretty good chance to reach the top in Buenos Aires.
Adrien Van BeverenYamalube Yamaha Official Team rider
I'm really positive going into this Dakar. Last year was my first time in the event so on top of everything I had to deal with the stress of being a rookie. But now all this is over and I know what I have to do during these two weeks that lie ahead. The race will be long so my plan is to remain focused on each day and each stage. I want to collect as much experience as possible, while giving my best for a good final result. It's going to be a long and tough Dakar, but I feel like we've put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I'm more than looking forward for the challenge.
Alessandro BotturiYamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider
I can't wait to start the race. It's going to be a difficult Dakar but I feel like I have a great chance to show what I'm capable of. We have a great machine that fits my riding style perfectly. This year we've also made some major improvements within the team. We have a new logistics setup and a new plan of attack as a team for the race. I will be doing my own race trying to remain focused on reaching the end of each stage inside the top 10. If everything goes according to plan I know I can be in for a good overall result in Buenos Aires.
Rodney FaggotterYamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider
I'm excited for the start of this Dakar. Being part of such a professional team makes me really happy. I'm looking forward to racing for myself and for the team. My role will be to assist my teammates as much as I can, while trying to bring my WR450F Rally home and secure a good overall result. There's a great vibe within the team. This might only be my second race with the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally squad, but already I feel like I've known these people for ages. They helped me feel comfortable from the get go so my motivation to do well for the team is really high.