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Africa Race 2023: Strong start for Tenere Yamaha Rally Team in Africa Eco Race

Africa Race 2023: Strong start for Tenere Yamaha Rally Team in Africa Eco Race

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The Ténéré Yamaha Rally Team, in partnership with Riders for Health, began the Africa Eco Race in some style as they secured a double podium after Alessandro Botturi finished the opening stage of the rally in second overall and his teammate Pol Tarrés in third, with just three seconds separating the duo.

The 15th edition of the Africa Eco Race (AER), which sees competitors retrace the original 1970s routes of the legendary Paris-Dakar rally, began with two days of technical checks and scrutineering in the French town of Menton before the official start ceremony that took place in Monaco on the 30th of December.

After the ceremony, teams and riders travelled 400km to the port of Seté before boarding a boat to Nador in Morocco for the beginning of the race in earnest. Arriving on the 2nd of January, competitors embarked from the boat and immediately set off for Stage 1.

The opening stage consisted of a 185km liaison from Nador to the start of the 174km special before another 238km liaison to the first bivouac in Boudnib. The first special took a fast and flowing route over rocky mountain passes and trails, allowing competitors to adapt to the event roadbook and settle into the rally routine, with longer and more demanding stages set to follow.

The Ténéré Yamaha Rally Team created history during the last edition of the AER, and Botturi and Tarrés immediately hit the ground running in Morocco as they returned their GYTR-kitted Ténéré World Rally bikes to their spiritual African roots. Botturi and Tarrés are racing on their production-based adventure bikes within the multi-cylinder 700cc class, which features a much more competitive field in 2024, while also competing against the single-cylinder 450cc prototype machines.

Experienced Italian Botturi, who won the 2019 and 2020 versions of the AER, used his navigation expertise to settle into a superb rhythm at the front despite leading off the riders. Starting as the lead bike can often lead to navigational issues due to the fact you do not have another rider to follow, and with the fast nature of the stage, it would have been easy for the 48-year-old to lose swathes of time. Instead, he managed the situation superbly, powering to second overall and also second in class, with a time of one hour, 55 minutes and 56 seconds, just one minute and 47 seconds behind the winner.

His teammate Tarrés, who became the first person to complete the entire AER on a twin-cylinder adventure bike when it was last held in 2022, showcased his potential once more as the Andorran put on a tactical masterclass. Wary of finishing first and having to lead out the much trickier second stage, yet conscious of not wanting to concede too much time, the 30-year-old controlled his pace brilliantly despite a minor crash that saw him unhurt and able to remount immediately. He finished the special just three seconds behind his teammate in third overall and third in class, with a time of one hour, 55 minutes and 59 seconds.

Source: Ténéré Yamaha Rally Team

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