Helder Rodrigues Leads Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team
In just over two weeks, the 39th edition of the Dakar Rally gets underway. The world’s “most grueling” motorcycle race will take 146 motorcycles nearly 5500 miles throughout three South American countries: Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.
This year Yamaha will feature six riders—four on factory bikes, and two with support from Yamaha. The four factory riders will pilot heavily updated WR450F Rally motorcycles.
Leading the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team is Helder Rodrigues, who will start his 11th Dakar Rally in 2017. During the 2016 Dakar Rally, Rodrigues didn’t have the best luck, finishing 12th overall at the Dakar Rally. During the Portuguese rider’s nine previous Dakar Rally entries, he finished in the top 10 with a best of third overall in 2011 and 2012.
“I’m really confident for a positive result at this coming Dakar. All the members of our team have done an incredible job during the 2016 season. We managed to develop a bike that I believe is capable of winning the Dakar,” Helder Rodrigues says.
“During 2016 I also worked a lot to improve my physical conditioning and navigation skills. This might be my 11th participation at the event but my motivation to do well is higher than it’s ever been. I feel that we’ve now put all the pieces of the puzzle together and it’s the time to prove ourselves. I’ve finished inside the top three two times in the past, so I know what it takes to reach the top. My goal for 2017 is to do even better than that. I believe all the right tools are there to make it happen.”
Rodrigues will be joined on the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team by racers Adrien Van Beveren (France), Alessandro Botturi (Italy) and Rodney Faggotter (Australia). The team will be under the guidance of team manager José Leloir and sport manager Jordi Arcarons. Also riding with support from Yamaha are France’s Xavier de Soultrait and Italy’s Manuel Luchese.
The 2017 Dakar Rally begins January 2 in Paraguay. Competitors will cross the northern part of Argentina and enter Bolivia. Racing at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters for more than a week, they will return to Argentina and start descending towards the January 14 finish in Buenos Aires.
2017 Dakar Rally Race Schedule
- Stage 1 | Jan 2 | Asunción to Resistencia | SS: 39km | Total: 454km
- Stage 2 | Jan 3 | Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán | SS: 275km | Total: 803km
- Stage 3 | Jan 4 | San Miguel de Tucumán to San Salvador de Jujuy | SS: 364km | Total: 780km
- Stage 5 | Jan 5 | San Salvador de Jujuy to Tupiza | SS: 416km | Total: 521km
- Stage 5 | Jan 6 | Tupiza to Oruro | SS: 447km | Total: 692km
- Stage 6 | Jan 7 | Oruro to La Paz | SS: 527km | Total: 786km
- Rest Day | Jan 8
- Stage 7 | Jan 9 | La Paz to Uyuni | SS: 322km | Total: 622km
- Stage 8 | Jan 10 | Uyuni Salta 492 892
- Stage 9 | Jan 11 | Salta to Chilecito | SS: 406km | Total: 977km
- Stage 10 | Jan 12 | Chilecito to San Juan | SS: 449km | Total: 751km
- Stage 11 | Jan 13 | San Juan to Río Cuarto | SS: 288km | Total: 754km
- Stage 12 | Jan 14 | Río Cuarto to Buenos Aires | SS: 64km | Total: 786km