Alessandro Botturi Wins Second Successive Africa Eco Race Aboard Yamaha Ténéré Inspired WR450F Rally
Yamaha’s Alessandro Botturi has claimed victory at the 11th edition of the Africa Eco Race. After taking the lead of the 2020 race at the close of day three, the Italian was never headed over the remaining stages and rode on to claim a deserved victory.
Despite a small set back in September 2019 due to injury, the Italian veteran wasn’t deterred and arrived in Africa focused on challenging for the event win. Alessandro duly raced his WR450F Rally into a top-three position on five stages, including two wins. Over the 15-day event, and a race-long battle with his closest rival Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Botturi eventually claimed victory with a winning margin of three minutes and 59 seconds.Botturi won the 2020 edition of the Africa Eco Race, which covered 6500km and crossed the territories of Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal, aboard a WR450F Rally featuring a livery inspired by the legendary Ténéré Dakar racers from the mid-eighties.
Alessandro Botturi: “After my crash at the Panafrica Rally in September, I took some time to recover. When I began riding again, I was more thoughtful and patient on the bike. It’s been a fantastic event, with some amazing stages, terrain and battles. I’d like to thank my Yamaha team who have supported me – winning the Africa Eco Race is just fantastic. I would also like to dedicate the victory to my friend and former teammate, Paulo Goncalves, who was tragically lost during the 2020 Dakar Rally.”
Andrea Colombi, Country Manager for Yamaha Motor, Italy: “Alessandro is a rider that stands out for his ability, determination, passion and strength of mind. He was always in control and consistent, and the end result is amazing. He is a true champion and combining such a rider with the technical qualities of our WR450F Rally, it’s created a winning combination.”
Eight years after the return of the official Team HRC squad to the world's toughest rally, Honda rider Ricky Brabec has topped the overall podium, having commanded from the start of the rally to the final special held in Saudi Arabia.
With the victory, Ricky Brabec (Hesperia, California, USA) becomes the first ever American rider to clinch the Dakar Rally. The rider concluded this year's edition with two stage victories, in a rally which he led uninterruptedly from stage three. Consistency proved to be Brabec's secret weapon, while deft navigational skills and pace aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY also helped him scoop the most coveted prize in off-road racing.
Monster Energy Honda Team delivered an excellent showing throughout the entire 2020 Dakar Rally campaign. The rally covered some 5000 kilometres of timed special stage and a total distance of 7800 kilometres, where, in addition to the two Brabec stage victories (stages 3 and 6), can be added those of José Ignacio Cornejo (stage 4 and stage 12), Kevin Benavides (stage 7) and Joan Barreda (stage 10), as well as plenty of top partial times, with the Honda squad seizing podium lock-outs on both stages 3 and 10.This represents the sixth Honda victory at the Dakar Rally after the five clinched in Africa, the most recent occurring 31 years ago: Ciryl Neveu (1982, 1986, 1987), Edi Orioli (1988) y Gilles Lalay (1989) took the previous top honours. In 2013, Honda returned to the Dakar Rally after a 23-year absence. During that eight-year spell, Team HRC has been on the final podium on two occasions: Paulo Gonçalves (2015) and Kevin Benavides (2018) both in runner-up positions.
First, I would like to congratulate Ricky Brabec on his victory. Also, I thank Joan [Barreda], Kevin [Benavides] and José [Ignacio Cornejo] on their fine performances. And finally, I thank the team staff and development team for making this win possible. It has been eight years since we returned to the Dakar, and by learning from our losses, and everyone involved working hard, we've finally won. The relentless work of everyone involved over the past eight years, in other words a Team Honda effort, made this possible. We must not forget that Paulo [Goncalves] contributed immensely to the first six years, and we thank him, and pray he rests in peace. We are also deeply grateful to all of our sponsors, and our fans worldwide.
Oh yes, the first of the new and heavily revised Yamaha R1s has just arrived in South Africa. Both models are pictured here, being the ‘basic’ R1 and the highly technical R1M version. Click here www.yamaha-motor.com for all technical information.
Both bikes are available to view at World of Yamaha right now. No prices are confirmed as of yet, but get in touch with the contacts below for more information and dealer locations.
Call: World of Yamaha (011 259 7604) or visit www.yamaha.co.za
KTM South Africa's Branch and Landman conquer 2020 Dakar Rally
Just like that, the 2020 Dakar Rally has drawn to a close. Taking their place in a select group of athletes to have conquered the iconic event this year is Southern Africa’s very own Ross Branch and Kirsten Landman.
Branch, the rider fondly known as the “Kalahari Ferrari”, has finished the event in 21st place overall. While the result is not what Branch was hoping for, the 2020 edition brought equally ground-breaking highs as it did devastating lows for the rider.
A crash on stage three and a hole in his rear tyre on stage six set Branch back immensely, despite his impressive efforts to climb back up the leader board. However, with a stage victory and multiple top-five stage finishes in the bag, this could be the start of the career in Rally racing that Branch has always dreamt of.
Even with the pain of a shoulder injury that he sustained after his crash, Branch revealed a deep sense of grit for eight stages and was able to prove to the world that he can not only persevere but compete with the front-runners in this sport. “This Dakar was one of the toughest races of my life... I crashed early in the race and had to ride with an injury, but at the same time I had some of the best results in my career. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, but I’m so happy to have made the finish line. I can’t thank everyone enough for all the support, it has been incredible!” said Branch.
While his 2020 Dakar comes to a close, it seems that the best season of his Rally career is only just beginning. “Seeing Ross cross the finish at the end of the second stage, knowing he has taken the stage win, was something so special and so rewarding, nobody can ever take that away from him and it’s something we will remember forever. With a stage win and his comeback after injuring his shoulder the following day, riding the remainder of the race in immense pain, he has shown what he is made of and his never-give-up attitude is something I find inspiring and hugely respect. The Dakar Rally can be kind to you and it can be cruel, you never know what you are going to get and Ross got quite a bit of both and learnt from the good as much as the bad. I can’t wait to see what the future of Rally racing holds in store for him,” said KTM South Africa’s Managing Director Franziska Brandl. For South Africa’s motorsport queen Landman, the 2020 Dakar journey was as much about getting to the start line as it was about finishing the race.
The rider is more renowned for her technical abilities as the first female to finish many of the world’s toughest hard enduro events. Based on her long list of credentials, many deem Landman as ‘fearless’ in her pursuit of racing.
Landman, however, entered the Dakar with a determination to overcome her greatest fear of them all – speed. The rider was involved in a serious accident in Botswana six years ago and has since avoided any races that require high speeds.
After conquering what was described as one of the ‘fastest Dakar race in years’, Landman couldn’t be prouder of her accomplishment. Not only did she finish the event but placed an impressive 55th overall.
“My goal was to stay consistent and get to the finish, and it was hard not to get into the hype of racing at times! I weighed up the risks and found a pace that I could manage – slow and steady wins the race! I found that I got faster and more confident as the days went on though, and I couldn’t be happier to have finished so high up. I certainly didn’t expect that!” said Landman.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the Dakar Rally would be something that Kirsten will ever want to tackle. What I do know however is that once she puts her mind to something it’s hard to convince her otherwise and her willpower and determination is something truly special. Seeing her cross that finish line in Saudi Arabia was quite a magic goose bump moment and from being by her side through her lowest lows to celebrating this high makes me even prouder of her. To her and all other Southern African riders that conquered the Dakar Rally, we salute you, you are all heroes!” said Brandl.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, together with everyone involved in the 42nd running of the Dakar Rally, tonight mourn the loss of one of rally racing’s much-loved competitors – Paulo Goncalves.
The experienced rally racer, who was contesting his 13th Dakar Rally, sadly lost his life 276 kilometres into today's stage seven.
All at Yamaha offer their heartfelt condolences to Paulo's family, friends and team at this very sad time.
Tomorrow's stage eight has been cancelled by the Dakar Rally organisers as a mark of respect.
For the second year running, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s Justin Barcia kicked off the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship with a win at Anaheim I. His teammate Aaron Plessinger battled back from a tough night to finish 12th, Saturday night at the Angels Stadium of Anaheim.
Barcia came out swinging with a Heat win to show his intent. He carried that over into the Main Event with another stellar start and moved into the lead early. The Florida resident held onto that lead until a few laps before the halfway mark. He made an error in the challenging track conditions but was able to minimize the damage and get back on track quickly in second. Barcia kept pushing and was able to move back to the front after an error from the race leader. He put his head down and knocked down the laps to return to the top step of the podium, his fourth victory in the premier class.
Unfortunately for his teammate Plessinger, his sophomore season in the 450 class did not begin as planned. A first turn crash in his Heat race put the 23yr old in the LCQ and had him fighting to take the last transfer into the Main. He then got a really good start from the last gate pick to salvage the night with a 12th place finish.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team heads east to St. Louis, Missouri, next Saturday, January 11, for Round 2 at the Dome at America’s Center.
The curtains of the Motul Roof of Africa, infamously known as the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’, drew to a close in Lesotho this past weekend. It was a particularly memorable event for Husqvarna South Africa, who in 2019 welcomed the entry from world-class rider Graham Jarvis.
It’s no secret that the 44-year old has entered the latter part of his career, and spectators relished every moment of watching the legend race through some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain.
After an electrifying Enduro Cross event in the city of Maseru, Jarvis managed to qualify second for the first race day in the Mountain Kingdom. On a grueling 180km route that had most elite riders in the saddle for close to eight hours, it was reigning Roof of Africa champion Wade Young who managed to open up a gap on the rest field. The chasing pack of Jarvis, Kyle Flanagan and Scott Bouverie were left to battle it out for the remaining two spots on the podium.
It was a disappointing start to the event by his own high standards for Jarvis , who then came back on the second and more technical race day with a point to prove. Doing what he does best over challenging terrain, Jarvis finished the day with the fastest race time of 05:54:21.
His comeback was impressive, but despite bridging the gap that had been opened up on the first race day Jarvis missed the podium by just two seconds. It was a spectacle to watch the rider put up a fight regardless, and fans will wait with an eager anticipation of seeing him return in 2020.
For the PEPSON PLASTICS HUSQVARNA RACING squad, the event brought the kind of breakthrough that Brett Swanepoel and Matthew Green had been waiting for. The majority of 2019 has been a building season for Swanepoel, who has slowly been making his comeback after an injury that almost ended his career. With a fifth place overall at the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’, the rider has undoubtedly reinstated himself as one of the front runners in this sport.
The future looks bright for Swanepoel, who will enter the new year as a favourite for the 2020 National Enduro Championship and fierce contender for the next edition of the Roof of Africa.
It was a momentous event for teammate Matthew Green. Taking full advantage of his bigger TE 300i this year, the rider managed to hold the pace of the leading pack throughout the event. At just 18-years old, he pulled off a top ten for the first time in his promising career.
“I needed to step it up this year and I had a point to prove. I couldn’t be more stoked with a top ten finish and know that this is start of much bigger things in my career,” said Green.
Husqvarna South Africa's Brand Manager Fred Fensham gives a parting shot: “With what I termed our 'Awesome Threesome', we went to this years Roof full of confidence. Securing Graham once again for the event was incredible and he did us proud – Friday was not his best day and he did not find his mojo, but he once again proved that he is still one of the best with the fastest time on Saturday. His parting shot to me – “Ill be back!” Brett and Matt both really made us proud and to see them both in the top seven was just great. Three Husky’s in the top 7 gold finishes is for me a very proud moment !”
The 2019 Motul Roof of Africa proved to be a momentous event for the Brother Leader Tread KTM team. After two grueling days in the Lesotho mountains, star rider Scott Bouverie placed second overall.
The 2019 Motul Roof of Africa proved to be a momentous event for the Brother Leader Tread KTM team. After two grueling days in the Lesotho mountains, star rider Scott Bouverie placed second overall.This is the third time in his career that Bouverie has stepped onto the prestigious Roof of Africa podium.
After forfeiting from the 2018 event due to an illness, Bouverie returned in 2019 with a strong determination to reclaim his once familiar mountain glory. While he is more well-known for technical skills, he kick-started the weekend by putting the hammer down through the streets of Maseru and ultimately winning the traditional ‘Round the Houses’ event.
Instead of heading into the mountains for a time-trail, this year riders stayed in the city to battle it out bar-to-bar on an enduro cross course. After a tough day in the saddle, Bouverie qualified as one of the front runners for the first race day in the mountains. It was reigning Roof of Africa champion Wade Young who took the lead early into the weekend, leaving the chasing pack of Bouverie, Kyle Flanagan and Graham Jarvis to fight tooth and nail for the remaining places on the podium.
“It all came down the final race day. Kyle and I managed to pull a gap on Graham and entered an intense race for second place. It took a lot of patience waiting for the perfect time to make an attack, and I couldn’t be happier to end the year off like this,” explained Bouverie.
Brother Leader Tread KTM teammate and enduro superstar Chris Birch made his ambitions clear from the start of the Roof of Africa:
“Having won the Roof three times, I’ve got enough experience to know what it takes to finish this race. I also know what it takes to win, though, and that I haven’t put in the hours of preparation I need to be able to do that this year. It’s going to be good to race this event and enjoy it in a way I haven’t experienced before,” said Birch.
Having said that, the New Zealand rider still managed to finish the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’ in an impressive 10th place amongst some of the best riders the sport has to offer.Just missing out on a top ten position was Bradley Cox, who for the first time in his career managed to finish the Gold route.
It was a particularly special event for the son of motorsport legend Alfie Cox, who mentioned having the best mentor he could possibly ask for to guide him through his first Roof of Africa Gold experience.
The future looks bright for Cox who is fast reinstating himself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of hard enduro.
Rounding out the orange team was Kirsten Landman, who once again stole the spotlight as the only female competitor to finish Gold.
She will now place all her focus on a goal she is yet to tick off her bucket list – to become the first African woman to finish the Dakar Rally.
“That’s it! This achievement of finishing the Roof was totally worth 21,5 hours of riding in two days. Everything was taken to a new level this year. Thank you to everyone for the support and cheers along the way – I can now say I’m ready for the 2020 Dakar Rally!” said Landman.
Thaba Bosiu, Lesotho, 05 December 2019
The Proudly Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha team riders, Kyle Flanagan (competing in Gold), Lloyd Kirk (Competing in Gold) and Bruce May (Competing in Silver), as well as the entire bLU cRU support team attended the 2019 Motul Roof of Africa with the goal of taking podiums for the Yamaha team.
Thursday 05 December, 09:00, Round the HousesThursday morning saw the team take to the streets of Maseru for the traditional Roof of Africa “Round the Houses” event. Kyle Flanagan put on a spectacular show for the crowd in the Gold race as he was battling for second position but would eventually end up in fourth.
Thursday 05 December, Thaba Bosiu, 11:00, Time Trial (Silver and Bronze)
Bruce May took off into the Lesotho mountains and would qualify a solid tenth place.
Thursday 05 December, Maseru Mall, 11:00, EnduroX (Gold only)
Kyle Flanagan, put on quite a show for the crowd the whole day and eventually end up with a solid third place and a great qualifying position for the following day.Lloyd Kirk, who led one of the EnduroX heats would eventually secure a solid ninth place and a good starting time for the following day.
Friday 06 December, Thaba Bosiu, Day one of racing
06:00 saw the start of the racing as Kyle Flanagan, Lloyd Kirk and the rest of the Gold riders took off into Lesotho Mountains for a gruelling 180 Kilometre race.
Kyle Flanagan would eventually take a solid third place for day one just behind his 2019 National Enduro rival Scott Bouverie in second and Wade Young taking first.Lloyd Kirk would unfortunately be forced to pull out of the race due to a severe viral infection and was taken back to the pits by the medics and immediately placed on a drip.
Bruce May took off at 07:00 with the rest of the Silver competitors for a total distance of 158 Kilometres and would eventually take a solid fourth place.
Saturday 07 December, Thaba Bosiu, Day two of racing, The Final day
Once again the Gold riders would take off at 06:00 into the Lesotho Mountains for a total racing distance of 136 Kilometres.
Kyle Flanagan took off, bar-to-bar, with rival competitor Scott Bouverie as Wayde Young started ten minutes ahead of both competitors. Kyle knew he had to ride hard to try close down the time Wade had on him and he set off to do exactly that.
Kyle would eventually secure a third place for the day and a third place overall with a mere three seconds ahead of multiple extreme enduro event winner Graham Jarvis. “I knew I had to push hard today to make sure I closed down the gap and I’m really happy with my overall result. A massive thank you to the entire Proudly Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha team for making this happen” says Kyle Flanagan.Kyle would see that the Gold podium was an all-South African podium, Wayde Young first, Scott Bouverie second and Kyle Flanagan third.
Bruce May would set off into in the Lesotho Mountains with the Silver competitors at 07:00.
Bruce knew he had to push hard this time round to close down the gap and try secure a podium finish.
“Coming into day two my plan was to try ride smoother and continue to push through to achieve a podium finish in the end “says Bruce May. Bruce did exactly that in the end and would secure a third place for the Motul Roof of Africa 2019 Silver class.In conclusion the Proudly Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha team did exactly what they had set out to do and once again secured podium positions with Yamaha’s dominance.
Thank-you must be expressed to the entire bLU cRU team and sponsors for their support throughout the 2019 racing year: Bidvest, AMP, Shoei, Acerbis, RK Chains, Progrip, Yamalube, GYTR, PSP Racing, Metzeler Carbontech, Hayward Suspension and Racestar Graffix.