Yamaha withdraws from international rallies

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Rennie Scaysbrook | February 20, 2022

Yamaha officially ended its association with the Dakar Rally and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

The only manufacturer to have competed in every edition of the Dakar Rally motorcycle event since its inception, Yamaha will now make the move from two wheels to four as it targets success in the side-by-side class with the YXZ1000R SSV.

The Japanese giant enjoyed considerable success on the Dakar, taking the first two victories in 1979 and 1980 with Frenchman Cyril Neveu on an XT500. Mr Dakar, Stephane Peterhansel, won six victories for Yamaha in the 1990s and Italian Edi Orioli won gold in the 1997 event.

Adrien van Beveren in action during the 2022 Dakar Rally. The Frenchman and Yamaha got close but couldn’t win the ultimate rally prize together.

More recently, Yamaha made a concerted effort to break KTM’s grip on the event with the Monster Energy team with Frenchman Adrien van Beveren coming painfully close to victory in 2018, only for mechanical issues that halted his load with the arrival in sight.

“Yamaha has a long and storied history with the Dakar Rally, beginning in 1979 with the very first edition and continuing uninterruptedly into the modern era,” said Eric de Seynes, President and CEO of Yamaha Motor Europe. “It is also an event for which I personally have a real passion, having participated in the event twice and worked for many years in close collaboration with Jean-Claude Olivier, who not only raced and won stages of the Dakar, but also oversaw Yamaha’s most successful pioneering period in rallying.

“However, while the Dakar Rally has mostly managed to stay close to its roots, even when it has left its spiritual home in Africa, the world in which it exists has changed significantly. Our off-road customers now have different expectations and they are looking for different products, and we have to meet them if we want to stay connected. It is for this reason that we have decided to end our long history on two wheels in the Dakar Rally and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, while simultaneously reinforcing our commitment to racing the Dakar on four wheels with the Yamaha. YXZ1000R SSV.

“However, Yamaha’s commitment to Rally Raid events with motorcycles is not over, but our future commitment must have a closer connection with our customers and their aspirations, further developing the potential of the Ténéré 700 in a direction that will allow them to rediscover the more adventurous side of rallies.

Yamaha’s withdrawal means van Beveren, Botswana’s Ross Branch and American Andrew Short are excluded from the Dakar Rally and the rest of the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship, with the second round scheduled for March 2, 2022 in Abu Dhabi .

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