Yamaha filled a place on the podium of the world’s toughest and most prestigious rally for the second year in succession as Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues claimed third position overall on his WR450F Rally. The 32 year old pushed through almost 9000km from Buenos Aires in Argentina to Lima in Peru via Chile in fourteen days and thirteen stages of the 33rd edition of the Dakar.
Rodrigues gathered two stage victories as the test of endurance, strength, belief and navigational skill took the competitors through the diverse topography of the three countries. From desert dunes to the Andes mountain range, 97 motorcycle riders were able to reach Plaza de Armas and the chequered flag in Peru.
“Making it to the end of a Dakar is always terrific,” the Yamaha rider said to the official website www.dakar.com. “So finishing on the podium is simply incredible. There are two great riders, Marc and Cyril, and they’re tough nuts to crack. I lost 20 minutes in stage 4 and 20 more two days later. I was 40 minutes back, so I knew catching up with them would be hard. Winning the Dakar requires perfect preparation all year round and making sure everything goes well during the race. I’ll try and find the solution to be as good as they are.”
Helder started the rally with a conservative speed but after 15th and 12th places on the first two timed ‘specials’ embarked on a run that saw him drop out of the top four only four times over the next ten days. He won stages eight and thirteen to consolidate his second podium result in a row and take his record to 4th, 3rd and 3rd from the last three attempts. The record – together with 2011 FIM Cross Countries Rally World Championship – establishes the Portuguese as one of the best rally specialists in the world.
Elsewhere in the two wheeled division Olivier Pain snared his best stage result of the rally at the final time-of-asking – with 6th – that cemented his final ranking of 9th and means that Yamaha technology filled two spots at the higher echelon of the leaderboard. The Frenchman posted ten finishes in the top fifteen. David Casteu was hunting a slot in the first five for almost half of the rally but ran into some technical trouble and could never regain the ground he has worked hard to grasp. Pain’s team-mate eventually rolled into Lima with the final position of 41st.
Also of note from the 2012 contest was Yamaha Dakar legend Stephane Peterhansel. The veteran put himself into the record books once more. The Frenchman won the car class of the rally for his tenth success. The win was his first in five years. “My finest victory will always be my first win in the motorcycle category, but this one has something special to it,” the 46 year old said.