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Dakar 2007: Yamaha Press Release 15Jan

  Posted at 09:35:29 PM
  File under  Dakar Race Yamaha
  Author: Yamaha Press Release
  Location: Normandy, France

Yamaha lead the 450cc class halfway the Dakar

With a stage-win, a second place and five other top 15 finishes Yamaha WR450F rider Helder Rodrigues (POR) is the current leader of the category up to 450cc. Helder is closely chased by Frenchman Michel Marchini, also riding a Yamaha WR450F. With eight of the 15 riding days and already 4500 km absolved, the riders are now halfway the grueling 2007 edition of the Dakar rally.

Top Yamaha man David Frétigné held the 450cc class lead up to stage 7, but then misfortune hit him hard and he was forced to retire. David crashed heavily in the dunes on the seventh leg from Zouérat to Atâr, the last stage before the rest day. David explained; “After the fuel stop around 350 km’s in the stage my bike did not run well and I crashed when the engine stopped when I was descending a dune. I went over the handle bars and the bike landed on top of me and the foot peg hit me in my right side, injuring my ribs.” Despite the aggravation David remounted straight away and carried on with his crash damaged bike in order not to loose too much time on the leaders. “The fuelling problems continued and David lost a further one and a half hours doing the necessary repairs. David arrived very tired and frustrated at the finish line; “To make things worse, just on the day when I have a problem the stage was made ten km longer due to poor visibility!”

After the finish it became clear that David’s condition was pretty bad with two fractured and one broken rib; ‘I did not sleep at all and it felt like somebody was poking a knife in my right side”. The next morning David decided to retire from the race; I’m not able to restart in this condition and be competitive, I would have to take unnecessary risks just for making up the numbers. I came here to finish each of the stages in the top six, close to the podium overall and win the 450cc class, that is now impossible, so it is better to quit.”

With Frétigné out, Yamaha’s hopes are now on Helder Rodrigues who had one of his toughest days on the Sunday stage. This 589 km special stage was the longest and possibly the hardest day of the rally; very difficult to navigate and with a very rocky surface. Rodrigues was one of the riders to get lost early on, costing him a detour of 15 km, yet he recovered strongly to finish 12th overall.

The leaders overall (bikes over 450cc capacity) are the factory supported Coma (Spa), followed by Despres (Fra) and Casteu (Fra).

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