2012 Dakar: Yamaha’s Rodrigues Takes 3rd

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2012 Dakar Rally

For the past 11 years, the Dakar Rally has become synonymous with KTM regarding the motorcycle competitors.

But one bike that denied KTM from taking the top three positions was the Yamaha WR450 F Rally motorcycle piloted by Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues.

The 32-year old battled intensely throughout the 33rd edition of the Dakar Rally, which took the riders almost 5,600 miles from Mar Del Plata, Argentina, through Chile to end in Lima, Peru. And when it was all said and done, Rodrigues would take the final podium position behind MRW Red Bull AMV KTM’s Marc Coma, and race-winner, Red Bull KTM’s Cyril Despres.

During the 2012 Dakar Rally, Rodrigues took two stage victories (9 and 13).

Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha WR450F) says: “Making it to the end of a Dakar is always terrific. 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.”

Rodrigues’ 2012 result was a repeat of his 2011 podium finish, and in 2010, he finished fourth overall. Yamaha says the record – together with 2011 FIM Cross Countries Rally World Championship – establishes the Portuguese as one of the best rally specialists in the world.

As for other Yamaha riders in Dakar, the Japanese manufacturer says Olivier Pain snared his best stage result of the rally at the final time-of-asking – with sixth – 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.