Africa Race 2022, 50 to 100 competitors at Yamaha Ténéré World Raid

We interviewed Eric de Seynes, head of Yamaha Europe and a member of the board of Japan (where he is by the way the only westerner), who first reminds me when I ask him if Yamaha stops the Dakar because he can not cope. to win it, that the brand has always ridden this rally raid, that a boy like Stéphane Peterhansel has won six times on a motorcycle. There were also years when Yamaha had no chance of winning, and the brand came into the start anyway … When you drive, you want to win, but you know that a race is never really won before arrival, a banal phrase , but always true in all sports for that matter.
There is another reason the Yamaha motorcycle used in Dakar is a variant of a 450 cc motocross bike, improved every year, but the base is too weak to be reliable, but the Dakar today is ridden flat everywhere, Yamaha has respect for its riders and no longer want to launch them with significant risks due to the excessive speed allowed … And this on a motorcycle that is not necessarily strong enough and above all comes from a base that has nothing to do with travel, adventure and therefore rally raid.
On the other hand, Yamaha releases a Ténéré 700, a motorcycle whose concept dates back to 1989, its name is directly the imagination of a sports traveler, back then it was a 600 cc single cylinder, today it is a 700 cc twin that exists in different versions , including the most successful, World Raid (Picture above) is almost ready to attack the desert at the end of the concession. Eric de Seynes’ long-standing obsession has been to supply high-performance motorcycles that will allow Yamaha customers to compete in the biggest events. However, the Yamaha budget for Saudi Dakar corresponds to 20% of the amounts available from Yamaha Europe to cover all the world championships (except Moto GP) and therefore for example WSBK, motocross, enduro etc …
So we had to do something else in rally raid, but Ténéré is a motorcycle that has its own audience, it is a real sports trail, the brand has the equivalent in road motorcycle which is Tracer 700. World Raid version Ténéré has f. ex. for example a 23 liter tank, a suspension travel increased by 20 mm compared to its little sisters, it offers tremendous reliability. It was a colossal commercial success, Yamaha could not meet the demand, 20,000 of them were sold per year (for comparison, the GS BMW queen of the genre sold 25,000 units per year). Eric tells me that since his performance there are 100,000 Ténéré in the world, a real star. Yamaha helped dealer teams, did a rally-raid test in Andalusia with the Ténéré 700, a week before the system was offered to its customers, and there were 18 at the start!
The new formula will get Yamaha to help its customers in the Africa Race rally with a large stock of spare parts, technicians, a kind of large family at the bivouac, very skilled pilots to also give pilot advice to those who do not know everything. and there is work, I must have traveled thirty to forty times in the Sahara, I have just learned that we are invited there, but the lord of the place can sometimes be tempted to test his followers … The rest you must go to meet you even, and it’s quite complicated when you’re covered in sand up to the splash screen! So the production of motorcycles in the beginning, two formulas are offered knowing that these customers will drive the entire rally route described below. You can ride there regularly on an average chosen at the start (an insane sport, sometimes more fun than the simple fact of running) or even drive counterclockwise, but the maximum speed of the motorcycles will be reduced to 150 km / h, sending people to not far from 200 km / h is absolute madness, whether they are amateurs or professionals for that matter. Other brands are interested in the concept, including Ducati and Aprilia, which will be welcome in a challenge specially arranged by Jean Louis Schlesser, the head of the rally, reserved for production twins, a bit like what was the formula Marathon by car on the real African Dakars. The rally would cost around 10,000 euros, for a Saudi Dakar we are at least 35,000! An affordable price that does not lead to dreams …
The goal of this operation is to register 50 to 100 competitors in this double-cylinder challenge, it is planned to mount the same system, but not in 2022 with the brand’s SSVs, very competitive machines …

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