The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team proved to be a force to be reckoned with during this year's Dakar Rally. With team member Adrien Van Beveren winning the rally's final stage while locked in a fierce battle for an overall podium result, together with Yamaha France supported stage one winner Xavier de Soultrait Yamaha Racing riders remained strong contenders for top honours throughout the 39th edition of the prestigious annual event.
Living up to everyone's expectations as possibly the toughest event that has ever taken place in South America, the 2017 Dakar Rally tested competitors' physical and mental stamina all the way to the finish line in Buenos Aires. Featuring a week's racing in the high altitude of the Bolivian uplands, weather conditions ranging from torrential rain to scorching heat the 8,818km adventure proved to be an extremely tough challenge for all competitors and team crews.
Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Adrien Van Beveren was Yamaha's best performing rider at the end of this grueling two-week-long race through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. Demonstrating the potential of his WR450F Rally machine the Frenchman climbed to third in the overall standings on stage five of the rally, holding on to his position inside the top three for the following four stages. Involved in a fierce battle for the final podium all the way until the last stage, Van Beveren eventually claimed fourth overall just 48 seconds behind third placed Gerard Farrés.
For Adrien's Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team partner Hélder Rodrigues, this was the 11th time the Portuguese rider successfully reached the finish line of the Dakar Rally and the 10th time he managed to claim a spot inside the top 10 of the final overall standings. Struggling to find a competitive pace during the opening stages of the event, Hélder remained focused on his goal to finish the rally while also providing vital assistance to his teammate Van Beveren whenever needed.
Enjoying a strong start to their two-week-long adventure in South America, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Rodney Faggotter and Alessandro Botturi were unable to reach the finish. Claiming a 10th place result on stage two, Faggotter was holding on to a strong 14th place in the provisional overall standings before a minor technical issue forced him out of the race two stages later. As for Botturi, the Italian rider suffered a fall 30km before the finish of stage four and was unable to continue his race to Buenos Aires.
Assigned with the task of developing a rally kit that will be available for all Yamaha riders within the next few months, Xavier de Soultrait demonstrated in the best possible way the vast potential of largely standard WR450F machinery. The Yamaha France supported rider kicked off the rally posting the fastest time during the opening stage's short timed special and then went on to claim two more top three stage results. Battling for the top five throughout the rally, a near disastrous stage 11 resulted in the Frenchman disappointingly failing to place inside the top 10.
Together with the trio of Van Beveren, Rodrigues and de Soultrait, Yamaha was happy to see a total of nine more 'blue' riders reach the finish of this year's Dakar Rally in Buenos Aires. From Yamaha Spain supported Marc Solà Terradellas, who battled to an impressive 29th place in the overall standings, to Italy's Manuel Lucchese who claimed fifth in the unassisted Malles Moto class, all Yamaha riders helped reinforce the brand's presence in the prestigious annual event.
Demonstrating the brand's dominance in the Quad class, Yamaha mounted riders occupied the first six spots in the final overall standings of the 2017 edition of the rally. With Raptor 700R mounted Sergey Karyakin claiming an impressive victory, 68% of all finishers in the Quad class of the 2017 Dakar Rally were aboard Yamaha machinery.