Double Top Five Finish for Yamaha at 2010 Dakar

Portugal's Helder Rodrigues has completed the 9000km, 14 stage loop through Argentina and Chile that formed the 2010 Dakar rally in a fine fourth place on the WR450F. The 30 year old was one position ahead of France's David Fretigne who added to his Dakar stage win tally by earning victory on the second day. The WR accumulated 10 top three results in total through the endurance and skill of both riders in the 32nd edition of the historic and challenging event.

Rodrigues was hunting for a podium place in the latter half of the two-week rally and traversed a variety of terrain and conditions in what was the second year of the spectacle being based in South America. The Enduro expert finished in the top three in four stages and dropped out of the first ten only once across the entire fourteen.

"I am really happy because I proved I have the speed and consistency to run at the front of the Dakar," he said. "I am in good shape and arrived to the finish without any injuries or physical problems and I am really motivated to do well again here. I am one of the youngest riders among the leaders and after this result I feel that I win the Dakar; this will be a dream and I hope I can achieve it soon."

Although Rodrigues could not topple Cyril Despres, who had led from the third stage, to give Yamaha their tenth Dakar triumph he was nevertheless the highest runner for the brand, just over half an hour in front of Fretigne. The Frenchman, a former winner of seven Dakar stages prior to the 2010 trek and also a victor in the old 450cc classification, had a bittersweet run through the continent. Celebration in stage two and a further four more runner-up positions were ultimately undone by an electrical problem on stage three that cost the Dakar veteran the better part of two hours.

"I did not achieve my goal of third place but to finish fifth despite losing one hour and forty-five minutes with a problem in the dunes, well, I could not hope for better," reflected 'Fretos', who had charged from 20th place in the standings after his misfortune. "I won a stage and was pretty consistent throughout. I showed that I can be considered a candidate for victory."

2010 was the first year in which all motorcycles were operating near a level 'playing field' with a technical limit of 450cc; larger capacity machines faced air restrictions. Only 450cc bikes will be permitted in 2011. "Next year we will all be on 450s so I am already impatient for 2011 when we will all be on equal machines; the competition has been revived," added Fretigne.

Fellow Frenchman Olivier Pain was 9th overall, placing three Yamahas in the final top ten.

Yamaha dominated the quad category thanks to the skills of Argentinean brothers Marco and Alejandro Patronelli respectively with their YFM700Rs. Marco, runner-up in 2009, clinched the title with a commanding lead of over two hours. Along with his older brother the South American's ruled six stages. Yamaha filled five positions in the top six with Spain's Juan Manuel Gonzalez in third, Poland's Rafal Sonik in fifth and Argentina Sebastien Halpern in sixth. In total Yamaha grabbed ten stage wins from a possible fourteen.

"In my dreams I could not have imagined this; two brothers finishing first and second at the Dakar! I think it is a bit of history for the rally," said the winner. "This was a really hard Dakar and the toughest part was the climb through the north of Chile and Antofagasta, navigation was tricky and it seemed to never-end. I want to thank my team and my family who always supported me."

Fretigne in the dunes
Helder Rodrigues
Fretigne and Pain