It was a day of highs and lows for the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team on day four of the 2020 Dakar Rally with hard-charging Argentinian Franco Caimi bouncing back from a tough stage three to finish 11th. Bravely taking to the start having badly cut his wrist on stage three, Xavier de Soultrait was forced to abandon the event because of his injury.

Now competing as the team’s lead rider following the withdrawal of teammates Adrien Van Beveren and Xavier de Soultrait, Franco Caimi delivered his best performance of the 2020 Dakar Rally to date, posting the sixth fastest time on the stage. Frustratingly, Franco received a five-minute penalty, placing 11th for the day and now sitting 13th overall. 

The 27th rider to take to the start of today’s 453-kilometre stage, in pushing hard and delivering near faultless navigation he’d moved himself up to third position by kilometre 243. Running into a few small navigational issues at the end of the stage he ended the special just over two-and-a-half minutes down on the day’s winner following close to four-and-a-half hours of desert racing, before picking up his five-minute penalty for speeding. 

As the team’s highest placed rider in the provisional overall standings heading into today’s stage four, Xavier de Soultrait knew that he faced a tough day in the saddle following his slow speed fall in stage three, which had left him with a nasty cut to his right wrist. Bravely taking to the start and riding on, Xavier was initially ok. But once he started the special stage he quickly realised that the lack of power in his braking and acceleration hand wasn’t going to allow him to continue safely and he was forced to abandon the event. Xavier will now return home to France where he will undergo surgery and begin his rehabilitation.  

Stopping to assist a fallen rider early in today’s stage, Jamie McCanney found himself battling against dust, and the occasional quad, during the first half of the special. Riding alone for much of the second half of the stage he enjoyed clear trails and was able to build confidence with his navigation.

With the opening four days of the 2020 Dakar Rally having stayed close to the Red Sea coast on the west of the country, stage five will see the event head east, from Al Ula to Ha’il. Expected to take competitors into sandier terrain the 564-kilometre stage will feature a 353-kilometre special.
Franco Caimi – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

11th Stage 4

Starting the fourth stage in 27th position I knew it would be another tough one, with a lot of dust and with many riders to pass, and it was. But it was a good day. I’m pleased that on this difficult day for the team I was able to deliver a good result. I felt good, my bike was working great, and I found a nice rhythm. There was some tricky navigation towards the end of the stage where I lost a little time, but I got a good stage result and also improved in the overall. It’s frustrating to get the time penalty, but I’m looking ahead to a new stage tomorrow.

Jamie McCanney – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

32nd Stage 4

It was a complicated start to the day for me, but I’ve experienced a new situation so more good learnings. I stopped to help a rider and looking back I was there too long. I was back with the quads, riding in a lot of dust. But it is what it is. I found a little space among the riders during the afternoon and rode alone pretty much for 250-kilometres, which was great. I really enjoyed that. I’m positive enough and looking forward to a little more sand now.

Xavier De Soultrait – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

I’m so disappointed that I had to stop my participation in this year’s Dakar – disappointed for myself, but also for the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team. We have all worked so hard this year to be ready for this race, this is a difficult way to end the event. I hoped the injury would be ok, and it was on the liaison. But as soon as I started the special stage it was difficult, dangerous. I didn’t have enough power in my right hand to brake properly, so after 30-40 kilometres I knew I had to stop. It’s super disappointing, but I will be back once this injury is fixed.

Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager

It goes without saying that today has been another difficult day for us. Xavier had to abandon the rally due to the injury he picked up at the end of stage three. He tried to not make too big a deal of his injury yesterday, a really nasty cut to his wrist that needed stitches and wanted to try and race on today. Honestly, it is no real surprise to us that he has had to leave the competition, but he showed great spirit and determination this morning in trying to continue. His decision is absolutely the right one, riding on while being unable to control his bike properly is too dangerous. On a positive, Franco has had a great stage, despite his penalty. Starting behind he pushed hard and did a great job with some really hard navigation. Finishing sixth is a great result, but he was as high as third, which is very positive. Jamie stopped to assist an injured rider and again learned more about Dakar and finished the stage strongly. Today we were also able to make a quick visit to Adrien in hospital, which was good. He is still in some discomfort, obviously, but we expect him to fly back to Europe in the next days, which is good for him.

Dakar Rally 2020

Stage 4 Provisional Classification

1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 4:24:51
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 4:25:26 + 35 seconds
3. Ross Branch (KTM) 4:25:46 + 55 seconds
4. Paulo Goncalves (Hero) 4:27:02 + 0:02:11
5. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:27:39 + 0:02:48
6. Toby Price (KTM) 4:27:50 + 0:02:59

11. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 4:32:16 + 0:07:25
32. Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 5:05:26 + 0:40:35

Dakar Rally 2020

Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 4)

1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 15:06:432. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 15:09:13 + 0:02:30
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 15:15:14 + 0:08:31
4. Toby Price (KTM) 15:18:52 + 0:12:09
5. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 15:24:35 + 0:17:52
6. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 15:25:54 + 0:19:11

13. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 15:57:10 + 0:50:27
29. Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 17:26:59 + 2:20:16

Dakar Rally 2020

Race Schedule

Stage 1 | Jan 5 | Jeddah to Al Wajh | Total: 752 km | SS:319 km 
Stage 2 | Jan 6 | Al Wajh to Neom | Total: 393 km | SS:367km
Stage 3 | Jan 7 | Neom to Neom | Total: 504km | SS: 427 km
Stage 4 | Jan 8 | Neom to Al Ula | Total: 672 km | SS: 453km
Stage 5 | Jan 9 | Al Ula to Ha’il | Total: 564 km | SS: 353km
Stage 6 | Jan 10 | Ha’il to Riyadh | Total: 830 km | SS:477km
Rest Day | Jan 11 | Riyadh
Stage 7 | Jan 12 | Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir | Total: 741 km | SS: 546 km
Stage 8 | Jan 13 | Wadi Al Dawasir to Wadi Al Dawasir |Total: 716 km | SS: 477 km
Stage 9 | Jan 14 | Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh | Total: 886 km | SS: 

Courtesy Yamaha