In the wake of Rodney Faggotter’s announcement that he will compete in the 2020 Dakar Rally on a WR450F as a privateer (full article here – link), Yamaha Motor Europe have revealed that its partnership with Monster Energy in MXGP will now extend to the official Yamaha Rally squad.
The renamed Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team will contest all five rounds of the 2020 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, which will span three continents and feature events in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and South America.
The 2020 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship gets underway with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March, followed in May by Rally Kazakhstan. In July the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team will contest the 8000 km Silk Way Rally, which starts in Moscow’s Red Square and finishes in China, before heading across the Atlantic the following month for the Rally dos Sertões in Brazil. The season will conclude with the Rally Du Maroc in North Africa in October.
Ahead of what promises to be a demanding season, the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team will contest the 2020 Dakar Rally which, after a 10-year sojourn in South America, heads into Asia for the first time, with the entire route contained within the borders of Saudi Arabia.
For the 2020 edition of the Dakar Rally, which will be contested over 12 stages and will cover a total of 7500 km, the Monster Energy Yamaha line up will feature Adrien van Beveren, Xavier De Soultrait, Franco Caimi and Jamie McCanney.
Van Beveren was the highest placed Yamaha rider in the 2019 championship standings, with his best result coming in the Silk Way Rally, which the 28-year-old Yamaha rider finished on the podium in third place. The Frenchman is a former stage winner at the Dakar and led the rally for four stages in 2018 before being forced to retire following a crash.
De Soultrait is also a former stage winner at the Dakar Rally. The Frenchman took victory on stage three and then backed that up with a podium finish on stage five to finish the 2019 edition of the rally in a creditable sixth place, a result he is keen to improve upon in 2020.
Following a highly successful career in Enduro racing, where he won multiple national titles in South America, Caimi made the switch to rally competition at the age of 28 and impressed the global rally scene by finishing in eighth place on his Dakar debut in 2017. The Argentinian rider returns to the Dakar in 2020 determined to repeat his debut success, having retired from the previous two editions.
McCanney, from Douglas on the Isle of Man, faces a baptism of fire in Saudi Arabia. The Enduro Junior World Champion in 2015 and E2 vice-Champion aboard a Yamaha in 2017 and 2018, the Manxman switched to Rally at the end of the 2018 season and after one year of intense preparation he is ready to join his three teammates in Jeddah on 5th January 2020, to start the Dakar for the first time.
2020 will be only the second time in its 40-year history that the Dakar route has been confined to a single country. In 2019 the rally was run wholly in Peru following the withdrawal of Bolivia and Chile from the event.
At the moment, where the organiser is building up the ‘third chapter’ in the history of the Dakar, Yamaha is not comfortable with this format and has encouraged the organiser to return to the original spirit of a true multi-country adventure.
KTM’s Nathan Watson wins season finale from Coldenhoof & Martens
Billy Bolt has been crowned 2018’s Ultimate Enduro Champion at the eighth and final round of the World Enduro Super Series – the Red Bull Knock Out held in The Netherlands.
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider claimed the top step of the championship podium ahead of Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler and round winner Nathan Watson.
Bolt is well-known for his Hard Enduro ability, while runner-up Lettenbichler was the championship’s best placed privateer, with motocross turned enduro racer Nathan Watson claiming the final position and representing the championship’s diversity and enduro spirit.
Billy Bolt – 2018 Champion
“I can’t believe it, this is going to take some time to sink in. To be the first World Enduro Super Series champion is awesome. The race was crazy, I had two huge crashes and hit the ground hard, but apart from that I enjoyed it. It was tough making your way past all the other competitors – there were bikes abandoned everywhere. The track changes every lap – there’s hardly a start straight now the tide has come in so much. It was frustrating at times when you got stuck or lost time due to someone else’s mistake, but that’s the nature of the race and generally the whole event went well for me. It’s been such a long season, with so many different races – to finish at the top when it’s all come to a close – it feels unreal. It’s been a real rollercoaster season for me with some challenges and then my knee surgery, to stand here now having won WESS is brilliant. It’s been a real team effort. The Rockstar Husky guys have really done everything and more to allow me to win this championship. It’s been a real team effort.”
The sixth edition of the Dutch Beach Race saw Watson stormed his way to a debut win on the Scheveningen shoreline, taking victory over home favourite Glenn Coldenhoff and Belgium’s Yentel Martens.
After seven rounds of Hard Enduro, Classic Enduro and Cross-Country racing, the first season of the multi-discipline Enduro series drew to a spectacular close at the infamous Red Bull Knock Out Beach Race. 1000 competitors took to the start line for the one-hour morning qualifier – won by Watson and 750 riders earned their place in the two-hour Final.
Eager to impress in front of his home crowd, Coldenhoff set the early race pace, with Watson, Martens, Camille Chapeliere and Britain’s Todd Kellet in tow. During the opening half of the race, Coldenhoff set a blisteringly fast pace and appeared to have all under control.
However, the opening of the extreme X-Loop for the final hour dramatically changed the flow of the race and Watson – putting his Enduro skills to good use – fought his way into the lead. Continuing his fast pace during the final laps, and with the track at its roughest, Watson stormed ahead to claim a 90-second margin of victory over Coldenhoff, with Martens coming through for third.
Nathan Watson – 3rd overall & Red Bull Knock Out winner
“I am so happy, I have been looking forward to this race all year. To take the win feels amazing, especially after finishing runner-up the last two times. I put myself under a lot of pressure coming here, everyone had me down as the favourite but anything can happen, especially in beach racing. I was ill last week and I didn’t expect to be so strong, but the whole race went perfectly. Glenn got away really fast at the beginning but I knew if I held on, I should come strong at the end. I can’t thank the team enough, it’s been a seriously tough year for me – I’ve experienced a lot of new events and learned a lot. To jump up to take third overall in the WESS championship is incredible.”
Glenn Coldenhoff – 2nd at Red Bull Knock Out
“That was a tough race, I am happy with second but it’s disappointing not to take the win. I started off really well and took the joker lane twice and was still leading at the halfway point. I was close to running out of fuel at the pitstop and lost a bit of time there but still felt good and had about a minute lead. When they opened up the X-Loop it was ok at first but on the second time through there were a lot of riders already stuck. I wanted to make sure I completed it properly but in the end the organisers were directing everyone up the side. I put in a lot of training for the event after the Motocross of Nations and I’m glad to take the runner-up, I just wish it was one step further up the podium.”
In the battle at the head of the World Enduro Super Series, all eyes were on title contenders Bolt and Lettenbichler, who were inside the top 20 of the 750 competitors. Positioning themselves out of trouble early on, the duo were closely matched with Bolt holding an important advantage.
However, two crashes by Bolt put him on the back foot during the closing stages of the race. Needing a lap to regroup he began to make headway, using the technical X-Loop to his advantage. Pushing clear of Lettenbichler and working his way up to 12th, the Husqvarna rider crossed the finish line as the newly-crowned Ultimate Enduro Champion.
Despite giving his best effort, Lettenbichler was unable to get the better of Bolt in the deep Dutch sand, finishing a creditable 15th to take the runner-up result in the 2018 World Enduro Super Series. In the fight for the final step of the championship podium, Watson’s round eight victory saw him leap past teammate Josep Garcia who placed 16th – to secure third overall.
Manuel Lettenbichler – 2018 runner-up
“It’s been an amazing year and to end it as the championship runner-up is beyond my pre-season expectations. I knew Billy was good in the sand, so my plan here was to try and keep him behind me and do my best to claim as many points as possible. I wasn’t sure how things would be after hurting my thumb at the Gotland Grand National. But the adrenalin has kept the pain away today and I’m really happy with my ride. Overall, I have had some strong podiums and I really feel like I have come into my form and that I’m riding at the top of my game. To end WESS as the series’ runner-up is amazing, but now I have to come back even stronger next year and take Billy’s title. Congratulations to him, it’s been a great year battling with him.”
In becoming the Ultimate Enduro Champion of 2018, Billy Bolt claimed the World Enduro Super Series prize of a KTM X-Bow.
Red Bull Knock Out – WESS Round 8 Results
Nathan Watson (KTM – GBR) 24 laps, 2:01:43.785
Glenn Coldenhoff (KTM – NED) 2:03:14.001
Yentel Martens (Husqvarna – BEL) 2:07:35.255
Camille Chapeliere (KTM – FRA) 23 laps 2:03:48.396
Todd Kellet (Husqvarna – GBR) 2:05:51.526
Jamie McCanney (Yamaha – GBR) 2:06:02.401
Lars van Berkel (KTM – NED) 2:06:57.553
Axel van de Sande (Yamaha – BEL) 2:07:19.272
Jeffrey DeWulf (Yamaha – BEL) 2:07:57.178
Sven van der Mierden (Husqvarna – NED) 22 laps 2:04:34.561
World Enduro Super Series Final Championship Standings